Andy Newby works as a Handyman for Jem Scaffolding, in Plymouth. With the help of his employers, colleagues and of dedicated job coaches, Andy has been able to break down stereotypes and challenge attitudes towards people with disabilities working within construction.
Tell us a bit more about what you do.
I do the cleaning inside then go into the yard where I do maintenance and sort the poles and fittings. When there are scaffolds in the wagons, I'll take them out and sort them into their right places. My role is make sure that the yard is tidy and stays that way.
What do you like about your job?
I like coming here and seeing the people I work with. They really help me to feel like part of the team.
I like that I get to prove how good I am at my job, as I'm very punctual and well organised, which is really important for my job.
It's also really good to get paid! It means that I get to be more independent, and I'm then able to go into town at the weekend, watch the football and enjoy myself.
What skills do you need in your job?
It's good to have a positive attitude, and not to moan about your work. I'm happy when I'm at work and know what I need to do, so I just get on with it. It helps that I don't mind the bad weather either!
What was your background before starting this role?
I have a learning disability which means I struggle to read or write and find it difficult to communicate. I also need help to learn new routines. I live with my parents but I travel independently now, taking two buses to and from work.
Pluss helped me to get the job here. I was made redundant in 2010, and hadn't had any paid work, so they helped me learn the bus route and do a work trial for six weeks. Then I got the job, working one day a week, progressing up to three days a week.
I have a job coach that helps me at work and I see my Employment Consultant every six weeks, where they check on me and my progress. It's a really good feeling to be back in work.
It's a big thing in the construction industry to change thought processes.Richard Barnes Operations Director
Richard Barnes, Operations Director
Andy's employer, Jem Scaffolding, talks about their experience in hiring Andy and how this has benefitted the company.
Andy has been able to learn what he needs to do in order to carry out his job effectively. He just goes off and does his job, meaning that we don't need to worry too much about him. He knows his routine and that helps us as he's able to be independent in his work.
Andy is a really nice guy, and always happy - you can't fault his enthusiasm! He is confident enough to have a laugh with us in the company (even telling me off if I've forgotten to get the milk!), and has definitely grown in confidence since he has been here.
You can almost see him developing in stages; in his level of awareness, who to talk to and of his own abilities. You can see the constant improvement he is making at work. He's gone from needing a full time job coach to being capable of doing the job by himself, and now being able to get through the working day without a job coach.
Help for employers
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website has a wealth of advice and guidance in how to accomodate and adapt your business for those with disabilities.
Pluss have been great through this, and it's great to see that way that they support people getting into work. They come in every six weeks to see how Andy is getting on, and his coaches are brilliant! They're supportive but know when to step back when they see that Andy is capable of doing something by himself.
Andy has the confidence now to come to myself or Darren if he needs anything.
We've made it an objective at Jem Scaffolding to give people opportunities from across the board. We have people working here from a variety of backgrounds.
As a business, if you have genuinely helped someone, you get a loyalty back that money cannot buy. I like to think that one of the reasons why we're a successful company is that we do give people that opportunity. If you help people then they will help you.
Breaking down walls
Andy has broken down prejudices since he has been here. In this industry, you can find that there is little understanding of those with different abilities.
But since Andy has started with us, his colleagues have befiended him, and they've made him part of the team. They get him involved and helping them with various things. He has opened their eyes to people with disabilities and is spoken to as an equal.
It's a big thing in the construction industry to change thought processes, which Andy has done with us.
Construction and Disability
Discover how construction is adapting and developing to make sure it accomodates all its workers, at any level of ability.