Works For Me: helping people over the final hurdle to employment

“Perseverance is the most important thing. You’ve got to carry on believing in yourself and what you do”

Mariwan Inferadi is 34 years old and from Southampton. He lives with the condition Leber’s amaurosis, meaning he has light perception but no useful vision. He talks to us about his journey through education into employment and how Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Works For Me programme worked for him.

 

Overcoming education hurdles

Mariwan grew up in northern Iraq before moving to the UK in 2001, when he was 14 years old. Upon arriving in the UK, he spoke only his mother tongue – Kurdish. He quickly mastered English, including learning braille while at college. He gained GCSEs and A Levels at college, before moving on to further education at university.

 

Heading off to university to study law at Southampton, Mariwan came up against some of the disappointingly familiar barriers that disabled students often face. His first term was marked by a lack of appropriate equipment and support. His Disabled Students Allowance application wasn’t handled properly and some of the support he needed, such as mobility training, IT equipment and a notetaker, took a long time to get in place. Luckily, he had a good relationship with his former college, and they were able to provide him with equipment to use in the meantime.

 

He got involved in Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Our Right to Study campaign and attended a meeting with Chris Skidmore, the Minister with responsibility for Universities at that time. He, and 12 other students, shared their experience of accessing DSA and attending university.

 

Mariwan Inferadi in graduation gown and cap

 

After finishing his undergraduate degree, Mariwan went on to achieve a master’s degree in diplomacy at Reading University, completing his studies in late 2019.

 

 

 

 

Job searching during a pandemic

Mariwan began his job search in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Unsurprisingly, job searching became increasingly difficult and Mariwan struggled to secure interviews. He said: “I applied for about forty roles, which was very time consuming”

 

Mariwan didn’t secure interviews for any of these roles – even though he would only apply for roles in which he felt he could comfortably fulfil 95% of the job description and person specification. Most of the time, he didn’t even receive a reply or any feedback from potential employers to let him know where he was going wrong. Mariwan knew that he needed advice and feedback to get over this hurdle.

 

He heard about the Works For Me programme through Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Education Team, who he met through his involvement in the Our Right to Study campaign.

 

The free Works For Me service supports blind and partially sighted people to develop skills and offers advice to transition to the workplace, navigate the job market or further their careers.

 

Mariwan knew he had the skills for work, but something wasn’t clicking with his applications – the training and support offered through Works For Me would be what helped him get his applications over the line.

 

Taking advantage of training through Works For Me

Mariwan took advantage of everything Works For Me offered including help with applications, CV writing, IT skills and mock interviews.  He said: “I didn’t know how to write a supporting statement. The Works For Me programme taught me that you have to address all the points succinctly. You have to showcase your skills while meeting the criteria”

 

The training and support provided through Works For Me helped Mariwan address some of the reasons why he hadn’t secured interviews. He learned how to properly write a supporting statement and started securing interviews for roles.

 

Using interview feedback to make improvements

The Works For Me programme offers interview practice enabling Mariwan to prepare for the kinds of questions he might face in a real interview and learn about interview techniques.

 

Unlike application rejections, which often come with no useful feedback, Mariwan asked for feedback after every interview he secured. He analysed this feedback and the comments from his interviewers, looking for areas where he could make improvements.

 

Combining this with ongoing mock interviews as part of Works For Me, Mariwan was able to improve his interview techniques, streamline his answers and ably communicate his suitability for roles.

 

Securing his role

This solid grounding in interview technique meant that when Mariwan finished his last interview, he already knew he had the role. He successfully secured a position as a Mental Health Act Admin Assistant at the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

 

This role will make use of Mariwan’s academic experience, and involves advising patients, clinicians, solicitors and doctors of the rights and responsibilities of patients, according to the Mental Health Act of 1983.

 

“Perseverance is the most important thing. It’s hard to fill out applications and apply for jobs, and it’s often twice as hard for vision impaired person. You’ve got to carry on believing in yourself and what you do.”

 

Mariwan had the perseverance, but the support and training provided by the Works For Me programme helped him get over the final hurdles between him and full-time employment.

 

Thomas Pocklington Trust is committed to working in partnership with sector organisations and others to support blind and partially sighted people into employment. Mariwan was also receiving support from Blind in Business with his search for a new position.

 

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