Jen, the venue manager at Two Before Ten café, has a commitment to her local community. She was approached by the Ticket to Work network to potentially provide some work experience for Charlotte, a year 12 student with Down Syndrome. Jen says, “I wanted to give someone a go.”
Charlotte started her work experience at the café working two afternoons per week, using a customised plan that Jen and Frank Fogliati (Ticket to Work) created for her. This is the first time Jen and the café had worked with someone with a disability. Jen says that having Frank get the ball rolling and putting all the stepping stones in place help make it successful. Plus Charlotte’s mom was brilliant helping the café team in the beginning.
Towards the completion of the work experience, Jen decided to offer Charlotte a paid job.
“I hadn’t originally thought about it as ongoing employment until her mum set up a meeting. I realised that it was something we could offer. Charlotte was going well and I thought, ‘so why not give her a go.’ It was just about creating a structure that worked for her and us.”
Jen has seen Charlotte’s confidence grow since being at the café.
“I see Charlotte approaching other staff members, starting conversations, approaching customers to take orders, not quite as shy as she was.” After Charlotte moved onto a paid contract, Jen worked with Charlotte and adjusted her hours to come up with the right schedule that works for both the business and Charlotte.
“I think my favourite time was watching Charlotte use her initiative to take an order. It was really amazing to see that happen, that her confidence had grown that she is doing things of her own bat,” Jen says.
For Jen and Two before Ten, employing Charlotte involved seeing an opportunity where they could provide structure and process for a young person with disability, allowing her to be successful at work.
“All Charlotte wants is to have the opportunity to have a normal life. We could offer that. I think any business can do it. It’s important to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons and have the ability to make an environment for the student to progress.”
Jen is happy that Charlotte is now part of the team. “I think that having a disability shouldn’t limit these kids to constant care. She (Charlotte) doesn’t need that, I think there can be systems developed to help them do more and I’m thrilled we were able take Charlotte on”.
“It’s definitely been worth it,” Jen says.