Meet Neil

“Meeting Dawna through Love London Working has really changed my life. She has helped me grow with confidence and show all those people that thought I wouldn’t be able to be a coach that dreams can come true.”

“Being born at 24 weeks means that I have learning disabilities, but that hasn’t stopped me functioning in mainstream society. Disclosing that I’m disabled can be hard sometimes because I don’t want to be treated any differently, it can also make things harder to understand so I have to take my time. It’s because of my learning disability that I’ve found it hard to find and keep a job that suits me.

Last year, I was put in touch with Mitcham Job Centre who found me a job in hospitality – I should have disclosed my disability as I found that I was put forward for all types of jobs that weren’t suitable for me because I couldn’t keep up with the work. I started to feel down by this point, all I wanted to do was work in an industry that I liked. I started to feel like if there was another person, without disabilities, doing my job they would be given the chance and support to make their job a success.

Mitcham Job Centre started to realise that I needed some extra support so they put me forward for a workshop with Wandle. That’s where I met Dawna. She was Wandle’s Love London Working advisor, which means that she can help people, who often face barriers, find work.

I immediately felt comfortable disclosing my disability to Dawna and started to open up about myself – my hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I love football and have always wanted to be a football coach but knew that I needed to start off with getting basic qualifications, so Dawna recommended that go to South Thames Colleague. I did, and passed my English and Maths level two. Getting that pass result started to make me feel confident – like I could actually achieve things.

Dawna looked beyond my disability and saw the potential that I have. She is so supportive and always likes to know how I’m doing or how she can help me further.

After passing my English and Maths, I decided to apply to the FA to be assessed as a football coach. I finally got an email back from Anthony Ferguson (top coaching mentor) – I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t nervous on the day of my assessment because I have worked with my players every Saturday for a number of years and Anthony told me to be confident and relax. I disclosed by disability to the FA and they were just as supportive as Dawna. I got some really great feedback from Anthony, he told me that he liked the way I gave the players detailed info and taught them about team work and communication. He also liked the way I managed to enthuse the team. I felt like I was on cloud nine.

But my good news doesn’t stop there – a few weeks later I got a job at the Little Foxes Club, where I coach children aged from 18 months through to pre-schoolers and up to 14 years. I love it! I feel really good about myself and am learning new communication skills because I have to really simplify the language I use with the children.

Meeting Dawna through Love London Working has really changed my life. She has helped me grow with confidence and show all those people that thought I wouldn’t be able to be a coach that dreams can come true.”

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