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Hi, my name is Mike Llewellyn. I work in the areas of Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, South Powys and the Cynon Valley (Rhondda Cynon Taf). Here I work as a Job Coach alongside Michael Stephenson who is an Employment Training Coordinator for the Engage to Change project through ELITE Supported Employment Ltd.

Together we help young people between the ages of 16-25 with a learning disability and/or autism to gain paid employment. We support young people all through their journey, helping to build confidence, learn skills and complete tasks to gain independence in their work. As every young person is individual we take to time understand what they need and help them achieve their goal of paid employment.

My days are very varied, as I meet so many fantastic young people that there is never a quiet moment! I am often helping with home visits and vocational assessments where we first meet the young people and discuss what type of work they are looking for, their challenges, and their dreams. I also help in preparing a CV, undertaking a “better off in work” calculation, and so on. I may also need to take time to identify the young person’s skills and strengths and look at job-searching skills and interview skills. Once these have been established and the young person is job-matched to their choice based on the assessment phase, a work placement is set up. Forms are completed to make sure the workplace has the correct paperwork in place to accommodate the  person concerned, Health & Safety work-wear is arranged if required, and one-to-one job coaching takes place. If the person needs travel training this is also planned out by the Job Coach, who will assist recording bus times, fares and roads that have to be crossed, making sure the person reaches home and work safely.

I currently work alongside a young person at a factory in Rhymney. My typical day as a job coach consists of preparing myself for work – putting on safety boots, a high-visibility vest, and old clothes, as working at the factory you can get dirty. Sometimes it’s cold so wrapping up warm is also required. I take a packed lunch, bottled water, and very importantly the person’s Job Pack. A Job Pack contains lots of information such as the person’s name, their workplace, contact numbers, health & safety forms, a task analysis (a list of tasks that the person will be required to do in work), and any other relevant forms involved in the work placement.

Once I travel to the factory I meet the person outside and together we go in, clocking in at the machine. They put on their work-wear and we look for the supervisor who updates us on any relevant information. We then proceed to our work area. My job is firstly to train the person to complete job tasks using the Task Analysis, then gradually step back and observe the person to make sure they are doing their job correctly and to an acceptable standard. If the person requires support I step in and help, but if all is well I watch and make notes in my head for later back at the office. I make sure the person is lifting correctly using manual handling techniques, and make sure the person is using the correct tools for the job they are doing. I also assist the person whilst on break to see how they mix socially with other work colleagues. If they need help with money to pay for food or drinks I assist; we then go back to work and carry out our duties. After the work has finished we remove our work-wear  and wash our hands. We have a quick chat with the supervisor about how the person is doing at work and then clock out at the machine, waiting for a family member to pick the person up from work.

Once this is all complete I leave the factory to drive back to the office. I select the person’s name from our database system and proceed to record the day’s events, focusing on what they did and how it went. I do this immediately as it is still fresh in my mind. This is all recorded to keep an eye on the person’s progress and update other job coaches. After this is complete I update another system that records my working hours. I enter travel times to and from the factory and the amount of hours that I job coached the person for that day. I then open up the job pack and go to the task analysis section where I record how the person is doing on each numbered task. I record different letters or symbols against each numbered task to reflect on how the person is doing. This in return will show the person’s progression at work and helps to assess how long I may be required to keep job coaching or tell me if there is a difficulty in a particular numbered task. If there is any difficulty my job is to work out how best to overcome the difficulty. When I next meet the person and supervisor we would discuss how we can proceed and overcome the barriers to completing any task that is causing difficulty, in order to help the person work independently.

I feed information back to Mike Stephenson on how the person has progressed. Once they are ready for paid employment, armed with all the facts and the person’s approval Mike will revisit the employer and negotiate with them a paid work placement. Hours of work and salary will be discussed and a “better off in work” calculation is arranged to make sure the person will not be worse off. Permitted work forms will be sent off to the relevant benefits agency, taking into account any DLA or PIP they may be receiving. After this is all agreed and completed, the person begins their paid work placement. I then gradually withdraw until the person is working independently and is happy with their tasks. With agreement from the employer, the young person, and ourselves, I withdraw from the workplace, making weekly to monthly telephone calls or popping in to visit them.