Bobby's Story - my journey into employment...


Hello, my name is Bobby.

I was a residential student at Queen Alexandra College (QAC) and successfully
completed a Level 3 Diploma in IT.

I have Cerebral Palsy and my residential placement helped me to develop life skills -
I learned how to live on my own, including learning how to cook, change my bed, and
generally be more independent.

During my third year at QAC, I felt that I was ready to do even more for myself so I
asked the staff if there was an opportunity to practice being on my own more but still
receive help and support when I needed it. They informed me of a standalone flat on
campus that I could try - I immediately said “Yes!” as I felt this would really help me
to achieve my target.

I also needed to secure a work placement, so I joined the College's Supported
Internship programme and went on placement at the University of Birmingham in
their IT department.

This helped me to continue working towards my independence whilst getting work
ready. I did this for a year which included travelling there and back on my own. I
helped the staff at the University install software onto their computers and also
supported them to solve any problems that arose.

During my fourth and final year at QAC I started an administration role at the
University of Birmingham, within the Medical School. I was still improving my life
skills and independence, receiving less and less support as the year went along. The
role involved recording student attendance - I was especially good at this and found
a new way to speed up the process, so I was asked to create an instruction manual
to pass on to other members of staff to follow.

Due to the pandemic, my placement finished in March 2020 and I had to return to my
family home in Cambridge. When I returned home, I found it very difficult to find work
during the pandemic and it seemed to me that my skills were slipping backwards.

QAC signposted me to the ‘Intensive Personalised Employment Support (IPES)’
programme and this is when it all changed for me. IPES is part of a Department for
Work and Pensions (DWP) initiative to provide support and training to help people
who have a disability or health condition into work.

I had lots of support from the IPES programme to find a job. The Job Coach provided
me with mock interviews and I practised answering competency questions. The first
job that I secured was unpaid as a ‘Digital Buddy’ at the Central Library. This meant
helping customers with problems that needed a more technical mind.

I kept applying to different libraries or public sector jobs because they were ‘Disability
Confident Employers. However, I got lots of rejections.

My Job Coach kept me going, practising my competency questions and interview
techniques, I was eventually invited to an interview. I had to do two competency
interviews before I was accepted as a specialist at a large tech company. All of this
was the start of my freedom!

The combination of help and support from everyone allowed me to meet new people
and help others understand what I went through by sharing my experiences and
becoming more integrated into society.

I started my training a day earlier than the other recruits, so that I had more time to
process what I needed to know to do my job. When I started, I made a few mistakes
as everyone does, but I learned how not to repeat those errors. The staff helped me
to feel more confident in doing the job. They gave me one-to-one training which
allowed me to really understand why and how best to communicate with the

Even now, one year into my job, my employer is still helping me to further develop
and improve my skills. I am so glad that they are giving me this opportunity to help
people and achieve my goal of securing employment!