Focussing on Learning Ability not Disability

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This year Learning Disability Week takes place between 15th-21st May and is the perfect opportunity for us to highlight success stories of local young people with additional support needs who have entered into the world of work.

In the run up to this week we visited a number of different youngsters throughout Ayrshire to hear about their journey into employment and asked why they felt more employers should recruit young people with additional support needs.

Murrie Robertson

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Murrie left school knowing he wished to pursue a career within the Sports and Leisure industry and was delighted when he was successful in gaining an Active Schools Modern Apprenticeship with East Ayrshire Council Vibrant Communities. After gaining excellent experience within this industry, winning the Apprentice of the Year Level 2 Award and securing a lifeguard qualification under his belt Murrie was keen to stay within this industry when his apprenticeship sadly came to an end.

After applying for the role of Centre Attendant within The Galleon Centre in Kilmarnock Murrie was delighted to be offered the job and was more than happy to disclose information on his additional support needs to his new employer. Murrie explained,

“When I went for my interview the interviewer did ask me what my additional support need was and I said there will be certain jobs that I will find harder to pick up on and it will take more time for me to get these clear in my head. I do think he had the perfect right to ask me as some people think this is an easy job but actually someone could come into the centre, drown and lose their life so it is a really serious job so he had every right to ask me about my additional support need.”

Murrie has now been working in his new role within The Galleon Centre for a number of months and is looking forward to his future in the Sport and Leisure industry.

To find out more about Murrie’s story watch our interview by clicking here.

Euan Watson

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17 year old St Matthews Academy pupil Euan Watson was keen to gain experience in the world of work during his time at school and was delighted when Tesco in Saltcoats offered him a flexible work placement two days a week.

Being Autistic, Euan was aware that employers may be wary of recruiting someone with his additional support need but People Manager Claire Gormanley explained,

“This has been a different work placement for us but it has really developed our team skills. Euan has been fantastic, he has fitted right in to the store team, he has been very helpful and customers have got to know him as well as colleagues and I would definitely look at doing it again in the future.”

As Euan continues with his studies at school and work placement within Tesco he is enjoying meeting new people and is looking forward to a bright future ahead of him.

To find out more about Euan’s journey into employment watch our video here.

Park School

Park school pupils Brad and Heather have been enjoying carrying out work experience placements within a number of Ayrshire businesses. 16 year old Brad Taylor has been carrying out a work experience placement within The Park Hotel in Kilmarnock every Sunday for a number of weeks and is keen to follow in the footsteps of his brother and become a Chef once he leaves school.

17 year old Heather also carried out a work placement within The Park Hotel and is now delighted to have secured a part time job working within Tesco in Galston. Working 9 hours every Saturday Heather is responsible for stacking the shelves, dressing the aisles and ensuring all areas of the store are clean and tidy and has said both her experiences within The Park Hotel and Tesco have helped to grow her confidence.

To watch our full interviews with these pupils click here.

Storm in a Teacup

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Suffering from a hearing impairment, 16 year old Cale Slimmon has had to face a number of challenges when gaining opportunities within the world of work.  Recently, he was given the chance to undertake work experience within Storm in a Teacup part of the Kilmarnock Heritage Trust.

Cale explained that during his work experience within the Storm in a Teacup cafe he learned how to use the coffee machine, met new people and carried out daily tasks within the cafe including cleaning the tables, helping the customers and cash handling.

With regards to the skills and qualities these young people like Cale bring to the organisation, Volunteering Co-ordinator Sue Cartlidge told us,

“The pupils have developed a BSL learning programme for our volunteers and have also taught the volunteers about different ways of communicating. It’s a joy to have people with additional support needs, they bring qualities that you would not otherwise have. They are hardworking, always willing to learn and it is definitely an advantage to the business.”

 To see our full interview with Cale, click here.

WG13

WG13 in Kilmarnock is a cafe and venue with a twist! As well as offering good food and space for entertaining or training facilities they are also an arm of the Council of Voluntary Organisations (East Ayrshire) which is a registered Scottish Charity. The reason for doing this is to allow people with additional support needs to gain work experience, industry standard qualifications and training.

Alan McLelland started working within WG13 as a volunteer and after being Barista trained he was delighted when he was given the opportunity to gain a part time job within the cafe as a waiter. Having worked there now for 10 months, Alan’s confidence has grown and the skills he learned throughout his time at WG13 have enabled him to enter into the world of work within the hospitality industry.

Job Coach at WG13 Eddie Walsh stated,

“I think experiencing the world of work has a lot of benefits for the people who volunteer within WG13. It raises their self-esteem, builds their confidence as within the business we have a supported learning environment so they get encouragement and support from the members of staff including management and front of house.”

To watch some Behind the Scenes footage of WG13 watch our short video here.


It is clear to see that giving people with additional support needs opportunities within the world of work has many benefits to them as individuals and to the employers. Having that little bit of encouragement and support from local employers can go a long way to growing and developing the skills these young people need to go on to have successful futures.

If you feel your business could offer a young person with additional support needs a work experience placement to help grow and develop their skills contact us today using the contact form below:

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