Partnership helps disabled jobseekers

Fourteen disabled and disadvantaged jobseekers in Stoke-on-Trent are celebrating being in work thanks to an innovative partnership between Co-operative stores and Remploy, the UK’s leading provider of specialist employment services.

The successful candidates, who are working at 10 Co-operative stores in Staffordshire, initially took part in a confidence boosting work placement scheme that gave them vital retail experience.

The initiative was the idea of Rob Leach, an Employment Advisor at Remploy’s Stoke-on-Trent office, who worked with local Co-operative managers to get the scheme off the ground.

“They were all very enthusiastic and could see the value of having a well structured work placement programme that provided jobseekers with comprehensive on-the-job training,” said Rob.

Three of the 14 candidates now have permanent jobs at the Co-operative store in Norton, Stoke-on-Trent. Store manager Stephen Preece said:  “Work placements are a great way to give disabled people a chance to grow in confidence and unlock potential. I am extremely proud to have three Remploy candidates working here, particularly as they reflect the community we serve.”

Ben Kendall, who has epilepsy, is one of Stephen’s new recruits. The 22-year-old said: “I was really happy with the service that Remploy provided. The work placement gave me an opportunity to learn all of the skills I needed and the support from the Co-operative has been fantastic.”

“Finding people with the right skills and attitude can be difficult,” added Stephen. “But this scheme gives candidates a chance to prove themselves while working and it enables me to give them a working interview. The results have been excellent and I would strongly recommend that all Co-operative stores participate in the scheme.”

Remploy’s Rob Leach is also keen to see the success replicated across the country. “Co-operative stores in Stoke have fully bought into the scheme, providing candidates with the support they need and treating them like valued colleagues. The results speak for themselves. A national rollout would help more disabled and disadvantaged people move into work.”

Remploy’s office in Stoke provides disabled and disadvantaged candidates with vital one-to-one support and a tailored action plan, including confidence building and advice about interview techniques.

Find out more about Remploy at or call 0845 155 2700.

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