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Life changing work experience

Wednesday 31st July 2019 12:00

L-R Gerry Doyle (EMCOR), Ben Morgan, Emma Novak (Thames) and Ilona Spyrka (EMCOR)

A college student has gone from nervous teen to confident young man after being offered a job at the end of a three-week work experience placement at Thames Water.

Ben Morgan, 18, who lives in Henley, has a mild learning and physical difficulty which had knocked his confidence. He had previously done other work experience as part of his school and college courses and was nervous about doing another.

But a programme tailored to Ben’s needs was devised by Thames Water and EMCOR – which looks after the water company’s buildings – with Ben working on reception at Thames Water’s Clearwater Court HQ in Reading, as well as visiting several other water company sites, including its science labs.

He was also given an iPad so he could take photos and record his daily activities. At the end of the three weeks, Ben gave a presentation on his experiences - and impressed EMCOR bosses so much there’s a job on offer if he wants it.

Ben’s mum and dad Vic and David added: “His disability has given him various challenges over the years, meaning he has to work much harder to achieve the same results.

“It was a wonderful three-week programme. Every step was fully explained and supported with kindness and respect and has seen Ben transform from being nervous about every new task to taking it all in his stride.”

Ben’s work experience was devised by early careers consultant Emma Novak and facilities estates manager Katrina McGuire, alongside Gerry Doyle and Ilona Spyrka from EMCOR.

They spoke to his parents to find out what Ben would like to do and the best way to support him. Managers who would be most suitable to help encourage Ben and to build his confidence were then hand-picked.

In a thank you card to Emma at the end of his placement, Ben said: “Thank you very much for setting this course up for me and looking after me throughout the three weeks. I have learned so much.”

Emma said: “After six months of planning, Ben has now completed the three weeks and has said this was one of the best experiences of his life. Seeing how life-changing this experience was brought not only a lot of joy for Ben, but also myself and the team. It’s so rewarding when we can pull together and arrange something like this.

“It’s been a fantastic way to show collaboration here at Thames Water and also to show how each of us can have an impact on people, particularly on those who just need an initial chance.

“The best and greatest part of this is that at the end of the meeting EMCOR asked if Ben would like to work for them going forward at Clearwater Court because of how well he contributed. I’m sure you can imagine his parents’ reaction to this news and how it has greatly increased their hopes for Ben’s future wellbeing and prospects.”

In July Thames Water was awarded Disability Confidence Leader status by the Department for Work and Pensions for its commitment to employing, supporting and retaining people with disabilities.

It means Thames is one of the country’s leading workplaces for people with both visible and non-visible disabilities.