Ashleigh is 20 years old and loves to work. Last year she started working casually at Little Rascals, a children’s play centre, and recently started working as an office assistant at Rising Tide, a financial services company, one day a week.
“I work at Little Rascals. We do kid’s parties. We do food and coffee out for people…They have birthday parties there. I sit and talk to them there. I say, ‘Hello, I’m Ashleigh, Welcome to Little Rascals’”
Rising Tide approached Down Syndrome Victoria expressing an interest in hiring a person with Down syndrome. Ashleigh went through an interview process along with a couple of other candidates. At the interview, when asked if she wanted a coffee, they were told that Ashleigh had just finished a barista course and showed them all how to make a coffee. Ashleigh got the job and is supported to complete her tasks by someone who works with her and teaches her new skills.
While Ashleigh now has two jobs that she loves, the road to open employment has been challenging. At school Ashleigh did work experience in supported employment industries. This work involved factory style work such as packaging.
It’s been hard for her to get a job since leaving school partly because the work experience she received in supported employment industries hasn’t given her the skills that she needed for open employment.
“I didn’t like that place because I didn’t like packaging. ‘Packaging is not fun for me. It’s not my skills.”
Ashleigh’s mum Sue says that if she had been able to do work experience in places like cafés instead of factories during her time in supported employment placing, she would have more relevant skills to bring when applying for jobs in open employment.
Ashleigh learns a great many skills from her day program that she attends four days a week, but is now learning new skills at Rising Tide.
“I catch the train by myself to my job…they help me with my writing”
She is also now being paid which Ashleigh is enjoying spending on herself.
“I die my hair and I’m saving it up for moving out. I want to get myself a house”