Case Study – Seeing the Ability not the Disability

If you have a severe stammer, are embarrassed about speaking aloud and choose to communicate by typing messages on your phone, ordering in a fast food outlet would be hard enough – let alone getting a job.


Simon came to Jericho as an Apprentice Administrator shortly after his 20th birthday and was at a low point in his life.  He was living with his grandmother, was reclusive and suffered from several mental health issues including depression, paranoia and anxiety. He was taking medication and had regular appointments with mental health professionals.

The following passage is Simon’s own description of his story prior to arriving at Jericho:

“I got told my mental health issues were caused by my childhood upbringing (Simon’s parents were both drug addicts and his father was a serial offender and served multiple custodial sentences). I also got told my high levels of anxiety make my stammer 90% worse.

I studied at South Birmingham College from the age of 14 because no school would take me. At 14 I was in a pre 16 unit for kids that couldn’t get into schools because of exclusions and other reasons. Then at the age of 16 I was studying ICT at south Birmingham College and getting in a lot of trouble outside college. I was getting straight distinctions in my first year at college. But in the second year it went from bad to worse. I was capable of doing the work, I could have been the best in the class, but I just gave up and stopped going to college the majority of the time.

At the age of 18 I stopped going out altogether because I was getting into too much trouble. So I stayed in, dropped out of college and became anti-social. I was in my room for over 23 hours a day. I didn’t go downstairs to talk to my Nan. The only time I left the house was to go to Asda and this was at 3am in the morning. 

I became obsessed with computer games because I had so much time on my hands. I became suicidal, I started to take anti-depressants and let myself starve, because I didn’t want to go into the kitchen where I might meet my Nan. I was afraid she would judge me and tell me off for not doing anything with my life. 

Then a support worker from The Prince’s Trust introduced me to a company called Remploy. On the first time going there they told me about Jericho and their apprenticeships programme. A few days later I went for an interview at The Jericho Foundation. I was really nervous but they offered me a place.”

Simon’s situation was unique. We had to create a job role that would accommodate his limited communication skills, but make the most of his obvious intelligence and other abilities. We consulted with him and agreed that the role of Apprentice Administrator would make the most of his talents. 


“Since being at Jericho my stammer has got 50% better. I had no work experience previous to Jericho, but now I feel like I have learned so much and gained a lot of confidence. The people at Jericho have given me lots of support and helped me start to become the person I want to be.

I have now been taken off my anti-depressants. I have a new girlfriend and my own flat. I would recommend Jericho to disadvantaged people; they have good support for people who are in trouble and for people with disabilities.”

Simon was the first to complete his Level 2 NVQ within his peer group. He attended well and even began attempting to say a few words out loud. He was offered an extension to his original contract and stayed at Jericho for a total of 18 months. He then progressed into employment as an administrator with Birmingham City Council.

Almost 3 years after he first walked through our doors, Simon still makes contact with Jericho from time to time to keep us updated about his life.

#birmingham #charity #socent #apprentice #apprenticeship #workexperience

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