Sheffield-based postural support specialist, Jenx, and its UK distribution division, Jiraffe, have been working closely with Big Ambitions to relaunch the careers of three individuals who’d been overlooked by employers due to their health conditions.
Rhys Owen, 29, had been unemployed on and off for almost five years before being referred to Big Ambitions, a community interest company based in Yorkshire who help people find work and improve their mental health, for employment support.
Big ambitions supported Rhys in partnership with Jiraffe, we were able to set up a dynamic work placement. With Rhys’s motivation and commitment, coupled with the opportunity to experience the work place this led to him being offered a role which has since become full-time.
Fast forward over two years: Rhys said: “I like working at Jiraffe because I feel welcomed and supported in the long term, they see your potential and harness it for the future, helping to remove barriers you may have had in the past, and grow skills plus experience. Just like our values my team leader is kind and encouraging and understands me, we work together to tackle challenges if any arise.”
In another fantastic success story Jamie Bedford, 37, was previously employed as a Foundry Operative, but a long-time health condition meant he was unfortunately no longer able to carry-out manual work. Jamie found himself in flux between jobs as employers struggled to understand his requirements and he adjusted to the change in circumstances, during this period Big Ambitions helped prepare Jamie for an interview as Jiraffe’s new Office Administrator.
Jamie said: “Jiraffe is a brilliant company to work for; everyone is very friendly and approachable. I don’t mind coming to work, which is something I’ve never felt before. They always make me feel like I’m not just a number, which is very rewarding.”
A further success story, Wayne Crapper, 57, was unemployed applying for positions for 8 months until he was introduced to Big Ambitions, who matched Wayne’s skills with Jenx resulting in a trial day, and he was more than happy to accept their contract for a role as a Product Operative.
Wayne added: “I am enjoying my role at Jenx very much, the office staff and workshop line managers and workers are very friendly and more than willing to help with any requirements I have requested as a disabled person, frequently checking on my welfare. Jenx is also giving me the opportunity to gain more skills and training.”
Kirsten Johnston, customer support team leader at Jiraffe, said: “We have had such a positive experience working with Big Ambitions and couldn’t be happier with these new additions to our team who’ve demonstrated a great work ethic and commitment to continued professional development.
“Big Ambitions provided the gateway to facilitate this and worked in partnership with us to provide support with helping them all to settle in and make any necessary arrangements.”
Andrew Wallace, health and wellbeing cChampion at Big Ambitions CIC, said: “All three candidates had barriers to employment, such as mental health or physical disabilities, and needed reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
“Jenx and Jiraffe went above and beyond to support this seeing the potential and capabilities in the candidates and worked with us and the individual to help create a workplace which enabled them to grow within the organisation.
“They gave them additional responsibilities and helped them develop skills to help them not only professionally, but also in building their self-esteem and confidence. It is a great experience for our customers when we place them with Jenx and Jiraffe, and I hope to continue working with them.”
Jiraffe, launched in 2014, is the UK distribution division of Jenx Ltd, a family-run company established in 1982 by a paediatric physiotherapist and a product designer with the aim of enriching lives and changing perceptions about disability.
Jiraffe and Jenx are active members of the Disability Confident employer’s scheme, and are also committed to the Mindful Employer scheme that supports mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.