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Partnership with metering centre gauges its tenth success

An initiative between Remploy in Birmingham and National Grid's UK distribution centre in Erdington to recruit more people with disabilities and health conditions has just recorded its tenth job start success.

Remploy, the UK's leading provider of specialist employment services for people who experience complex barriers to work, joined forces with National Grid when the company relocated its meter assessment centre. Together, the companies have supported a new team of people with disabilities and health conditions into employment, with Abdul Alam from Handsworth becoming the latest successful recruit.

Adbul, 26, has just joined National Grid as an administration assistant and has part-paralysis and mobility problems down his right side. He was referred by the Jobcentre to Remploy's specialist recruitment branch in Birmingham city centre, where a Remploy employment advisor worked with him to develop his employability skills and interview technique. Thanks to the already successful relationship with National Grid, Remploy was able to put Abdul forward and he soon became the tenth successful Remploy candidate to be recruited.

“My Remploy advisor was really friendly,” said Adbul. “Thanks to them and National Grid, I'm now in a role I love. I'm getting on-the-job training from a colleague and I've really noticed how much more confident I am now. The team here is great and a lot of people have benefited from National Grid working with Remploy.”

Over 19 million items are issued and distributed by the Erdington centre each year and its smooth running is vital in ensuring thousands of National Grid field engineers are properly equipped to maintain the company's gas network.

A large area of responsibility for the centre is the assessment and reprocessing of gas meters – over 1.5 million of them will pass through the centre this year. When the company decided to relocate the centre to Erdington, Roger Aspin, who heads up logistics for the company's supply chain management division, felt it was a perfect opportunity to put policy into practice.

Roger was aware of a National Grid recycling operation in the United States which employed a high proportion of disabled employees. Keen to replicate this initiative with his new team in Erdington, he got in touch with Remploy's Birmingham branch.

“Creating an inclusive environment where everybody is welcomed and developed to fulfil their potential is part of National Grid's inclusion and diversity policy,” explains Roger. “Remploy understands our recruitment requirements and we host site visits for candidates to come and experience the working environment. They spend time trying out the job to get some hands-on experience and talk to the other employees.

“The Remploy candidates' enthusiasm to get back to work is almost tangible. This, combined with the support of the National Grid and Remploy teams, has been instrumental in making this initiative such an ongoing success.”

The Remploy candidates who now work at National Grid have a variety of health conditions and disabilities and are employed in a variety of meter assessment and administration roles.

Jimmy Tombs was one of the first Remploy candidates to be supported into work at the site and is still enjoying his role as a meter recycler a year later. Jimmy, who has respiratory problems, has since gained his forklift truck licence and is a trained first aider.

Roger continued: “Working with Remploy has changed a lot of perceptions about disabled people – the employees that join us do just the same jobs as anybody else and have totally fitted in.

“It's fantastic to see the confidence of people grow once they're back at work and we've implemented quite a few operational ideas put forward from the Remploy candidates.

“We work with a number of recruitment agencies but Remploy has now become so embedded in our recruitment strategy and culture that they're our first port of call. They can simply supply the best people for our roles.”

It is hoped that the success of this initiative will now be used as a precursor to a national partnership agreement between Remploy and National Grid to encourage the appointment of people with disabilities and health conditions nationwide.

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