Portia Wants a Job: Living with a learning disability


My name is Portia. I am 21 years
and I want a job. Mum: Hello.
Portia: Hi. Mum: Are you ready?
What you got there? Portia: My CV. Mum: Thinking about
the meeting this afternoon? Portia: Yeah. I’m going to Farmers
to see if I have a job or not. That will mean a step for
me in the job path. This meeting today
is about feedback… on how you went for
your work experience. How do you think
it’s going to go? Portia: I’m nervous. I don’t know
what to expect. If they tell me that
I didn’t get the job. Mum: She’s had five weeks
work experience there. I’m hoping it will
lead to something… which we will find
out this afternoon. I’m ready to
go now Mum. Mum: I’m really hoping
she does get the job… because it get her into the
retail field in a big environment. Portia: I’ve really tried
with handing my CV in… and applying online. I’ve done
everything I can to get a job. Mum: What are you thinking
are you excited? Portia: Yep and
nervous. I feel like my disability
is stopping me. I really want something big
and happy to happen to me. Director: How did
it go Portia? Portia: Not good. Mum: No it
didn’t go well. As they explained it
was just work experience. And they were
promising nothing. We hoped they would
see the potential in Portia. But they didn’t.
But it wasn’t a job. It was work experience
and that’s what we’ve got. It effects me
really hard… because I know Portia
has lots of strengths. And lots of things that she
can give employers. I just feel that they
need to give her the chance. Let’s go through
your CV, Portia. Employment history,
pages and pages. In the interview if they say,
“Why do you want this job?” What would you
say to that? Because I think it would
be a really cool job to work in. If they go, “What can
you bring to the job?” “What are your strengths?”
What would you say? I’ve had heaps of
retail experience. Doing what specifically? Putting clothes on hangers and
sorting the changing rooms. It’s been hard to
find a job. I’ve handed out maybe
one hundred CVs. And applying online. No one has called me back
saying we have a job for you. Mum: Shall we go
in here Portia? Portia: Yep. Portia: I’m wondering if
you have any jobs available? Man: Are you wanting full
time or part time work? Portia: Part time. Man: Have you got
a CV there for me? Portia: Yep. Man: Okay leave that with
me and we’ll let you know. Portia: Thanks. Portia: I’m wondering if you
have any jobs available? Lady: We do actually, a
part time position. Would you like to
leave your CV? Portia: Yep. Mum: They’ve all been
lovely receptions… but unfortunately, they
take your CV… but we don’t often
hear back. Portia: I feel there’s
nothing else I can do. I’ve done everything
to get a job. But obviously it’s
not enough. Mum: How did
the response go? Portia: Good. She would be good because
she wants a job for a long time… not just a short time
in between her studies. She committed, but we
can’t get her foot in the door. So, we just keep
plodding along. It’s been frustrating
for us, I suppose. She’s come out of high school
who is expecting everything, like every kid, they’ve
got their life ahead of them. And they’re going to get
a job, go flatting… go on holiday and
hang out with their mates. And that just
wasn’t eventuating. As time went on she got less
enthusiastic putting out her CV because of the rejection
of people saying… “Thanks but we haven’t
got any jobs for you.” It’s been two and a half years
and I’m stilling looking for a job. She was the perfect baby because
she slept and didn’t wake us up. At the time we thought
this is brilliant. But as time when on it turned
out to be part of a syndrome. With her condition it started with
developmental delay. At two and a half years, we worried
about her delay in lots of areas. She still had
no language. It wasn’t until she was six
and a half years, they diagnosed
her with a… a condition called
Cri du Chat Syndrome, which is French for
Cry of the Cat because they have
a cat-like cry. It’s actually a deletion in the
small arm of her 5th chromosome. So it’s also called
Five P Minus. Like a lot of these conditions
they have spectrums… she was at the milder
end of that spectrum. Some of the ‘Cri du Chat’
children have no language, or no mobility, so
she was more able. That may have been why
she wasn’t picked up earlier. Portia: I have two sisters,
Olivia and Juliet. I’m the oldest.
We all love clothes. Portia: What shoes are you
going to wear with it? Sister: Maybe these. Portia: My sister got a job
just like that when she left school. I thought that might happen
to me but it didn’t. Sister: I got some shorts,
but they’re for summer. For summer I’ll
bust them out. Mum: It’s been a
tough time for her. She just wants to do what
her two younger sisters are doing. And having a life
and going out. To do that she needs to meet
people in an employment job. But we never stop trying. The worst part has been trying
to keep her happy and upbeat. To keep her self
esteem intact, because it has been hard
for her to keep going out, cold calling and handing
out her CVs. It was good working
at Farmers, I worked in
women’s wear. I put the size tags
on coat hangers, picked up the clothes
from the ground, and priced them. A few times I lost
my customer… when I had to go and find
someone to ask about something. When I finally found
someone to help me, they asked, “Where’s
your customer?” And I was like,
“They’ve disappeared. Back in school I think
they thought I was dumb… because I was with
the Unit kids. And it made it obvious
that I had a disability. But now when I meet
people and tell them… that I’ve got a
disability they tell me… “You don’t look like you
have any disability.” My problem is not actually
having my disability. I know there’s stuff
that I can’t do. It’s more about how other people
see me and how they treat me. I have to go to a Day Service
with disabled people. And I felt like I was
at high school again. The Day Service is where
people go who have disabilites and who have left school. We do programs there
like flatting skills, and they also help
you to get a job. Lady: Hi Portia,
grab a seat. Today we’re doing photography
with different camera angles. And moving things closer
and further away… to make them appear
larger or smaller. Also learn a few tricks to make
things look a little different. Portia: The reason why I don’t
really like going there… is because it’s a bit
like school for me. Mum: Portia has come out of
school and gone to a Day Service… where they do lots of
activities and that’s cool. But she’s always
wanted more. There are tons of kids
who all want paid work… and to feel valued
in society. Guy: What are you
doing Portia? Portia: I’m volunteering
at the Red Cross. Girl: How has your
day been? Porita: Good.
How’s yours? Girl: Good because I’m not
going to school tomorrow. Portia: My last year of
high school, I thought… right, next year’s going to
be the year I get a job. But it wasn’t and I had
to go to Day Service. If I get a job it will take away
some of the ‘downs’ this year. She’s got a job at the Red Cross
which is work experience, in part getting her wish
to work with clothing. And that came about
through the Day Service. Lady: Hi Porita, are you
all ready to work? Portia: Yep. Lady: These clothes here are
to put out into the shop. So, I will leave you
to do that for me. Portia: Okay. She’s doing clothing
matching and pricing. And now she’s starting
to work on the Till. For her to get a job in a clothing
store that she wishes… she needs to know all
of these skills. Lady: Hi I’d like
to buy this please. Lady: We’re just in
training here, thank you. So, you put in
the price. Women’s skirts.
Great. Subtotal. Portia: That will
be $7 please. So you put
in the $20. Portia: I think they need to be
patient with me to do stuff. Lady: And cash.
Great. So, $13 – a $10, a $2
and a $1. Your receipt and count
the money back to the customer. I think they need to
remind me of stuff… that they told me
weeks ago. Remind me, otherwise
I might forget. Is there anything that you
don’t understand on the Till? Is everything clear what
we’ve worked through? Portia: Yep. It’s just the Eftpos. Yes with more training on
that I think you’ll be fine. Some people work
in Op Shops, and then they get a job
in a big retail shop afterwards. But that hasn’t
happened to me. There’s huge
competition in retail… and at times I’ve given up
handing my CV into retail shops. It’s not worth it because
I haven’t got anywhere… with my work
experience from here. I’m a firefighter in Hamilton
at the City Station. And I thought there might
be a chance that Portia… could learn some office
administration skills… up in our executive wing. I ran it past the Chef and
Dianne and office administrator, and they were both quite
happy to take Portia on. Dianne: Hello how
are you today? Portia: Good. I’ve done the printouts
for you today, so could you just do
your job on the board please? Portia: Yep. Portia seemed to enjoy
it quite well. She enjoyed the interaction
with adults in the workplace. As well as learning
how to do office work. Potentially down the road that
could lead to a job somewhere. In the job I sort out all of the
petrol receipts from the trucks. And I send envelopes to
different Stations, so that they know what they’ve
gone over budget with. Like if they’ve bought a hose
it’s a hundred dollars. And their budget is $90. We saw a TV story about a
program that Fairfax Media ran… it’s called Creative Spirit
and their idea… is to give entry-level jobs
to kids like Portia. Today, we’re on our
way to Auckland. We’re going to meet
with Anna-Marie who’s in charge of the
Creative Spirit Program. We’re also going to
meet with Emma… who’s a perfect role model
for Portia to see… what working in a big office
environment may be about. Hi I’m Anna-Marie.
Hi I’m Karina. Hi I’m Portia. Nice to meet you.
Come on up. We are following up on your
Creative Spirit Program on TV, and looking for an opportunity
perhaps for Portia to get a job. The Creative Spirit Program
is really new for us. It’s an initiative about developing
and encouraging businesses to have employment opportunities
for people like yourself, Portia. And it would be really neat
if we could find you employment. You were working at the Fire
Station, Portia? Yes. What kind of jobs did
you do there? I did office work. I sorted petrol receipts
from the trucks. And I put papers in evelopes
for different Stations, so they know what they’ve
spent over budget on. If they’ve bought a hose they
know if they’ve gone over budget. 24% of the NZ population are
touched with a disability. And hopefully this
program will create… those opportunities
for those people… to contribute to society just
like everybody else. Thanks for coming in.
We’ll keep in touch. I’ll email you if there’s any
opportunities that come up. And we’ll have a formal
interview and go from there. Karina: That sounds
great thank you. It’s a double-edged sword… when you talk about
creating an opportunity, it’s not a charity, you’ve got
to have a position… and a task for
somebody to do. It’s about businesses
opening their eyes to the potential to employ
somebody like Portia. The potential to open their
eyes around the diversity… that they should be
representing in their staff. Hi nice to meet you. Hi this is my mum
and dad. Portia: Emma who we saw
on the TV show, I saw her mixing with other
people that were working. And her filing the newspapers. And I thought, I could
do that sort of thing. This is my desk. Portia: What sort of
work do you do here? I mail out the TV
Guides to people. In this database I key in
the return magainzes… that either people haven’t got
or it’s the wrong address. The second row is where
I put in the issue date. The third row is customer ID
and customer name. And then comment or
reason for renewal. Hi Portia how
did that go? Good. Got a job? No yet. But they’re going to talk to the
people in their Waikato office. Fairfax have been in contact asking how Portia’s getting a job is going. I think Portia made an
impression because… here was a kid that
really wanted to work. Anna-Marie rang us one day
asking how Portia was going… and whether she had a job
and she said… there was a slight
possibility that… there may be a position coming
that she could apply for. When we go to
the interview… tell them about your
work at the Fire Service. Hi I’m Christine. Hi I’m Karina. And you must
be Portia. Come on through. Welcome, Portia it’s
lovely to have you here. Tell me a little
bit about yourself? I go horse riding in
Cambridge every fortnight. Sunday afternoons I do Special
Olympic swimming training. I understand you’ve done
volunteer work… with the Red Cross and
the Fire Service? At the Fire Service, I did
admin work for them. I worked in a team, with
a lady called Dianne. At the Red Cross, I
helped in the shop. I sorted out
the new stock. Okay I’ll give you a run
down of what the job entails The role is to tidy the kitchen and
put the dishes in the dishwasher. And stock up our
kitchen supplies. Then some newspaper filing. And topping up the
photocopier paper. And we have our mail out. That sounds awesome.
Good eh Portia… because you’ve been doing
that for the Fire Service. I think you’ll be a
good fit for our team. So we would like
to offer you the role. We’ll let HR know and
we’ll get the documentation. You can have a look over
it and then you can start. Oh my gosh. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. See you. Just unbelievable, all this
hard work we’ve done… and she’s got a job
it’s just wow. So how long have you been
looking for a job now Portia? Two and a half years. It’s been a long time huh? Mmmm. I’m really happy. And excited to start
the new job. Paid job. Yeah paid job. Yeah get your
own money. Tea’s going to be
ready shortly. Can you guys
set the table? Looking back on
our journey… Portia’s want and her drive
for more for her life… and to be more in
control of her life, has led me to go down the
path of Enabling Good Lives. It’s about changing society
and their thinking. To other parents in
similar boats… I would say, keep trying and
keep plodding along… and supporting your child
through the journey. I think if we had employers
opening up their minds more, and looking around their
work places and saying… “We could easily have our
systems improved… by having people that want
jobs and are very loyal… being there and being
part of the community. All cheers to Portia and her
new job and her future. Well done Portia.
Cheers.

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