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Sean's Story - Project Choice

Sean's Story - Project Choice

Image of Sean looking proud, holding a diploma

Sean is 25 years old and has Downs Syndrome. He joined the Project Choice (Newcastle) in September 2013 after leaving Tyne Met College.

What were my worries about getting into work?  

I felt nervous before joining the course, I was not confident. I thought, I can’t do this – how can I? Looking back I realise I was underestimating myself. When I was a teenager someone said something really awful to me, it had stayed with me and made me feel very low in confidence. As I wasn’t sure about joining the course, I agreed to try a ‘taster’ work placement first at a local music hall. It involved meeting and greeting visitors to the centre. Although I was low in confidence, I am naturally a bubbly sociable person and I really enjoyed this placement! My confidence was boosted and I thought ‘Maybe I can do this after all’. I decided to go for it and join the project full time.  Now I realise it is the best decision I have made.

The project allowed me to completed three 12 week placements in different departments of the NHS. This provided me with varying experiences and learning opportunities but with support along the way from my workplace mentors and the Project Choice staff.

As I continued to succeed in my placements I was also keeping on top of my academic work. After putting in a great deal of extra effort, I achieved my qualification in employability skills.  Through the project and the help of my workplace mentors, my confidence started to grow, as did my work skills and knowledge about work. I was starting to feel like I was work ready.

Who has helped me with this? 

Project Choice, my mentors and my family.

What have I learned along the way?

Due to my disability I prefer to learn visually, I learn by repetition and by being shown a task a few times, before I can do it myself. I knew I needed a mentor and tutor who would be patient and show me how to learn at my own pace. I went to college 2 days a week and worked the rest of the week in the hospital. Even though it was hard, I loved it. I also learned to travel independently, this was a big hurdle as not only was I nervous about travelling alone, I also had a huge phobia about cats and dogs. Little by little I pushed myself harder and I was able to do this too.

My employment so far/My hopes for the future

By the time I undertook my final placement I was confident, standing tall and really keen to get a role in the NHS. A role came up in my placement department and I was successful at interview. I am now employed as a Medical Records Clerk for the NHS  and love it! One day in the future I hope to be an actor on my favourite TV programme; Coronation Street.

Last year I was awarded the Learner of the Year award at the Festival Learning. I am very proud of this achievement and I look forward to accomplishing more in my future. I am always keen to help the Project Choice team promote the project to others, I am proud to be a project ambassador.