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SkillSET client triumphs; Achieving Part Time Employment

SkillSET Project ‘ Waleed Mohamed Halim Hamed triumphs; Achieving Part Time Employment in a Warehouse as a Cleaning attendant Waleed, a Deaf sign language user, seeking Asylum in NI from Sudan, joined our SkillSET project in January 2024. Waleed had been referred to the service by Social Services,

who were assisting him with other areas of settling in NI.

This was a unique case for the service, given that he arrived without exposure to the languages used in the UK, neither British Sign Language, Irish Sign Language nor English was accessible to this individual. Therefore, AdaptNI had appointed a Deaf Sign Language using staff member to work with Waleed, brokering communication in International Sign.

The staff member working with Waleed was challenged with explaining cultural norms and expectations of the employment market in the U.K., such as: CVs, a concept which was unbeknownst to Waleed, due to the differing culture of his country of origin Sudan. The first step taken by the service was to enroll Waleed onto AdaptNI’s ‘Employability Training Course’, from which he was successful in achieving a certificate of attendance.

This provided AdaptNI with a challenge to overcome; communication. Given that Waleed was communicating in International Sign, the service provided International Sign Interpreters to aid in the communication of the course content, personalised support in explaining the process of an interview, the expectations of the job market in the UK and enrolled Waleed on an accredited Customer Service course with TrainSafe.

Waleed successfully obtained a Highfield Level 2 award in Customer Service. A milestone achievement for this individual, given that he had never been enrolled or completed such training in his country of origin. Waleed expressed that the barriers to Deaf people in his country of origin prevented him from upskilling himself and obtaining employment experience.

Alongside support provided in educating Waleed in the employment market and obtaining transferable skills and qualifications, Waleed was supported in applying for various employment posts and attending interviews. Support was provided to Waleed by the service: in navigating the job market, completing job applications and applying for those posts. After the applications, when Waleed was offered an interview, the service supported Waleed in translating the correspondence from job offers and procuring the appropriate communication requirements to allow Waleed to fully engage in the interview. During the interview process a Sign Language interpreter was procured and his AdaptNI employment officer was present to assist in the communication during the interview.

Post-interview, Waleed was successful in securing a post as a cleaning attendant, employed via DGS Service Solutions in a commercial warehouse on a Part Time contract of 8 hours. Whilst employed, the support provided by the service didn’t cease. Waleed required support in understanding the company's policy documents, the statutory working regulations and other policies required by the company. Therefore, the Employment Advisor appointed to Waleed, continued to translate information into International Sign and explained to the company of the provisions that should be put into place to ensure the environment was made fully accessible for a D/deaf Sign Language user. For example, if there were meetings or training required of Waleed in the role, a Sign Language interpreter would be required. A barrier acknowledged, by both the company and AdaptNI, was the constrictions of the Access to Work Grant scheme.

As Waleed was working under the number of hours that would deem him eligible to being provided a grant under the scheme for the procurement of communication and equipment support. Waleed’s journey into employment highlights the many challenges that D/deaf individuals face. Without the support of the service and the dedication of the individual, the many barriers that D/deaf individuals face would have remained, proving detrimental to the wellbeing and accessibility of D/deaf individuals, like Waleed.

Not only is this case unique to the service but also to the employment market in NI. With cases such as Waleed’s, it is evident that Deaf people can work and live inclusively with the correct support and provisions put into place.

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