A DurhamEnable jobseeker has overcome repeated setbacks to take the first steps towards a dream career with the NHS at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Lee Terry, 22, from Seaham earned his place on an apprenticeship in customer service, working as a Customer Service Administrator.
Born with scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve and twist, Lee required yearly operations to extend his spine. The care he received from healthcare workers motivated Lee towards a career in health and social care, which Lee pursued into college.
Lee was determined to succeed after having a tough time in school, and excelled in his college work, while also being diagnosed as autistic. However, Lee found university was not suited to his learning needs.
After dropping out of university, Lee wanted to work. He went to DurhamWorks for support, where it was felt he would benefit from a referral to DurhamEnable.
DurhamEnable job coach Carole Williamson said: “Lee was unemployed, applying for hundreds of jobs. He was applying and applying and just not getting anywhere, but his motivation was so high that he just kept applying.”
Working one-to-one, Carole was able to identify key areas to work on with Lee, such as selling his skills to employers. Carole said: “Convincing Lee into showing off all of his skills and abilities took a while. We needed a relationship for that to work properly.”
She added: “Once he had the skill of matching his brilliance to the person spec, he got every interview from each application form henceforth.”
Despite this progress, Lee still experienced setbacks. He was inspired to speak out after he ran into multiple issues with a job posting. Reasonable adjustments were not made during Lee’s interview, and the post was later pulled for a discrepancy.
When the same role was advertised again, Lee reapplied but was not shortlisted, despite having the necessary skills. Lee was concerned about how the recruitment was being handled, and wrote to the organisation’s HR.
Representatives soon got in touch and acknowledged that there had been mistakes, letting Lee and Carole know how they would be resolved to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Despite his initial disappointment in how the posting was handled, Lee said: “This told me that there was a culture of responsibility, and correcting mistakes where they are identified.”
He added: “I also felt reassured with what they came back with in regard to how applicants are shortlisted. I said that they were taking the person specification too literally, and applicants had to quote the person specification, rather than heavily implying a skill. They acknowledged that was a mistake.”
Lee kept on applying for work, and soon achieved success, gaining his apprenticeship position where he has flourished in his new role, and started taking part in a disability action group within the hospital.
Emily Wallace, Directorate Administrator Manager and Lee’s course mentor said: “Lee has been in the department since the beginning of November 2021 and he has been a strong start here, he has picked processes up very fast and has been a very useful addition to our team.”
Ms Wallace added that working with DurhamEnable: “Has been a really refreshing experience so far and reassuring to know that there is support for us if we need it too.”