Surrey-based landscape gardening firm, G Burley and Sons Limited, employed David as a grass cutter. David has Asperger syndrome, a condition that very much affects his confidence and had previously led to various employment issues.
This story is told in the words of his Manager, Jeremy Sleeman:
“Before he came to us, David had been working for his local golf club. He’d found it hard there; he couldn’t keep more than two instructions in his head at a time. His boss had become frustrated and David had left, feeling unsupported and hard done by. He got in touch with ESRA as it specialises in helping unemployed people with mental health problems to get back to work. ESRA knew we were looking for someone to work at the Reigate and Banstead cemetery. They approached us and put David forward for the job. Happily, we accepted."
Repetitive and straightforward tasks
The position involved repetitive and straightforward tasks and seemed highly suitable for David. ESRA offered a financial incentive and assistance with training, which was great. One of the first things David did as part of his sponsored training was to pass his driving test. This enabled him to be more independent and to get to work on his own. I think it gave him a real boost.
During David’s time with us we had monthly meetings with ESRA and a work plan was drawn up so that everyone felt supported. At times this seemed a bit of a formality, but ultimately it was really important for all involved.
Oversaw a gang of three workers
After a while we recognised that David was stagnating a bit and needed another challenge to help him develop. We asked him to work on a verge-cutting contract we had with the London Borough of Sutton. At first he resisted strongly, probably through fear of the unknown. But in the end he was persuaded. In the event he did extremely well; he oversaw a gang of three workers and was himself the most reliable member of his team. This was the making of David. His confidence grew and grew.
David was with us for three or four years. After the contract expired he transferred to the Local Authority. His development has continued and he recently gained the confidence to move away from home. At a recent meeting, David’s mother expressed her pleasure at seeing such a remarkable change in David during his time with us. David’s progress made me realise how important a job is for people. It gives a structure to their lives and helps build their confidence and skills. You know things have worked out when people do not stand out and are not being treated any differently from others. This is the stage David had got to, so it was a real success – both for him and for us.
Jeremy Sleeman, Manager, G. Burley and Sons Limited