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Our deaf colleague Billy is thriving after finding work at our 'gem of a store' in Chesser

September 27, 2019 01:19 PM

Billy Chan, who's been deaf since birth, struggled to find a job for eight years until disability support group All In Edinburgh took him along to a recruitment day at our Chesser store.

He's now worked at the store for 11 months and is a very popular member of the team at the store – with some of his colleagues learning sign language to support him.

Billy, who's 59, said: "It's been difficult to find work with both my age and being deaf at the same time. Luckily I found a gem in the Chesser store – I'm so thankful for being given the chance to prove myself."

He says he loves his job restocking shelves with new products and that Asda have helped him "grow as a person". Billy urges anyone with a disability to never give up trying.

Billy said: "My co-workers have been learning a few signs in sign language to communicate with me which is always nice as I know it is quite challenging – it's hard to learn and to understand.

"The managers and supervisors have been very kind and patient with me in terms of my deafness, which I am thankful for. I've found all my co-workers to be very accommodating of my disability too.

"I was quite hesitant at starting my job as it had been quite a long time since I last worked and with my deafness providing a challenging effort to communicate with anyone, but I was ready to get back into work."

Deputy store manager Peter McAloon says Billy has been a great addition to the team.

"No one had given him a chance," said Peter. "Giving people a chance is what Asda is all about. Disability should not be seen as a barrier.

"A number of his colleagues have learned basic sign language to they can communicate with Billy. Some have learned enough so they can have a conversation with him. I think that is brilliant – wonderful really. I was quite shocked by it.

"Everyone is very protective of Billy and look out for him. He is a lovely guy and does such a good job.

"He has a very good manner with customers who approach him too. He takes them to another colleague or line manager who explain that he is deaf. We have a lot of regulars in the store so they all know him."

Billy had struggled to find him employment before he got the job at Asda with help from the team at All In Edinburgh – and says their support was a great help.

He said: "I would like to add that for those who are in a state of never finding any work and/or have a disability of sorts, I would strongly suggest getting some professional help in finding work as it can really speed up the process."

A spokesperson for All In Edinburgh said she was delighted to see how well Billy was doing since getting a job at Asda.

She said: "Billy has a strong work ethic and just needed a good opportunity within the right team. His management and co- workers have been a great support and welcomed him into the team and encouraged him to get involved with the social aspect of the role. The communication with Asda has been great. If there is any additional support Billy’s team have contacted All in Edinburgh directly to arrange new ways of working."

Billy had been out of work for eight years when All in Edinburgh started working with him. They helped Billy with job applications and work visits to allow him to find out more about working within retail.

The spokesperson said: "We supported Billy to interviews along with an interpreter and also discussed and arranged the support he may require in work. Billy was invited along to an Asda assessment day and Billy was successful in obtaining a role within the store! All In Edinburgh, alongside his new team, supported him with initial trainings and learning his role and since then he has continued to develop new skills. We are happy with the support and flexibility that Billy had from Asda as his employer."

Find out more: All in Edinburgh is a supported employment project run by four organisations – ENABLE Scotland, Action Group, Intowork and Forth Sector. All in Edinburgh provides employment support to people with long-term health conditions and disabilities, to access and sustain meaningful employment. To find out more, contact 01312208255 or visit allinedinburgh.org.uk.