Our fantastic colleague Max Ferreira has really grown in confidence since he started working at our Southgate Circus store – and now he's been named an "ambassador for autism" by a local charity that helps young people with learning disabilities.
Max, who's 23, started work at our store in the chilled department just under a year ago – and he's enjoying himself so much he's now working an extra day per week.
He said: "I just want to do a good job. I'm learning all the time and am continuing to learn. And as that happens my confidence just keeps growing.
"I want to experience new things and I like the fact that not every two shifts are the same. I started off doing just two days but now I'm doing an extra day too. My colleagues here are brilliant too."
His mum Nikki says the whole family are very proud of Max's progress.
She said: "Everyone at Asda are just so lovely and kind to him. He really loves his job and works very hard.
"We are all so very proud of him. Asda really has been wonderful for him."
"His confidence has just grown immensely since he started working there. He has gained so much independence too. He recently passed his driving test as well!"
His line manager Jenny Galatis says Max is an asset to the department and they love having him there.
She said: "He is a a really good lad. He just gets on with things. Nothing is too much trouble. Once he has mastered a task he is ready for the next one."
Her comments were echoed by the store's people manager Gifty Banno who said: "Max is a very calm, extremely well-mannered young man. If he is not sure about anything he will ask. He just wants to get things right."
Local charity The Harington Scheme has teamed up with the store for the last 12 years to provide work experience and employment opportunities for young adults with learning disabilities – and Mandy Hill from the charity says Max is an inspiration to others
They were so proud of their former student's journey that they recently filmed him in store and will be using this as part of their newly-updated website.
Mandy said: "Max is a great ambassador for people who are on the autism spectrum.
"He is flourishing in his role at Asda and is being offered more hours. He still volunteers at our charity shop so we see him regularly. He seems extremely happy at the store and has certainly grown in confidence and that confidence is continuing to grow."
Max is also a creative writer and produces short stories for an online magazine called Exposure in which he offers guidance and advice for people who are autistic.
Here's an extract from one of his poems:
We need the right support, with heart and discipline.
And, most importantly, guidance about life and being independent.
Otherwise we’ll be shy, vulnerable and stressed by outsiders.
However, being autistic doesn’t have to be negative. It can be positive.
Having special interests calms us down.
And can make us an expert in something valuable.
In a way we show energy, creativity, repetition and determination.
For those without autism, we are all humans.
Whether it’s someone with Asperger’s, severe autism or non-verbal.
At times we’ll be in our own autistic routines. As long as we have encouragement from family, friends and organisations.
The timeline for the future is secure and clearly recognisable.