My work with the Princes Trust

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Tesco have been in Partnership with the Princes Trust since June 2014 when it set up its first pilots. They have joined with a further 25 leading UK companies which are supported by the Government to help provide a structured programme of employability training and work experience to help prepare young people who are not in education, employment, or training for the world of work.

Last year Tesco Lurgan were given the opportunity through the Princes Trust to assist a few young people to gain confidence and work experience. Once on the scheme they are given help and support by a “Work Buddy” in the store.

Our Store Manager Matt Lovell approached me to see if I would like the opportunity in becoming a Work Buddy for a young man that was coming from the Princes Trust for work experience for four weeks. With my role as Union Learning Rep, the Store Manger thought I would be ideal as I can talk away to anyone.

It was very humbling and was a great privilege to be asked to mentor a young lad called Christian who had learning difficulties. I was his main point of contact throughout the four weeks and I was there to help with any practical or social aspects of fitting into life in store.

Christian was quite a shy young lad but once I introduced myself to him and took him to lunch and introduced him to other work colleagues he started to ask questions about the store which I was only too happy to help with to make him feel settled instore.

Through the four weeks I was there with Christian helping him with shelf packing, how to rotate products etc. Although he was not able to be on the checkouts, he watched how they operated and how we spoke to customers. As part of my role as Work Buddy/ULR I helped him each week to complete a learning log provided by the Princes Trust to what jobs he had done in store, what he had learnt and the people he met. This log was important as he could take it to assist him with other employers to help with interviews.

Once Christian’s four weeks were over, I was asked to come along with my Manager at Tesco and other employers to celebrate the Princes Trust Certificate Presentation.

All awardees had to do a small presentation and when Christian stood up and said “I had a wonderful buddy in Jennifer who gave me the confidence in helping me to fit into the world of work. She helped me to complete my learning logs and supported me with my reviews with the Department Manager.”

It was great to witness Christian’s achievements and the confidence that he acquired in the short time he was at the store. This was a great experience for me as a ULR to mentor a young person with a learning disability. In the future I hope that through my ULR role that I will be chosen once again to mentor more young people through the Princes Trust.

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Jennifer Gracey

Jennifer Gracey is an Usdaw Union Learning Rep at the Tesco store in Lurgan.