Joanna’s Story

Joanna* has autism and learning disabilities. She left college in 2014 with the dream of working in an office and living in her own flat.

After much perseverance and hard-work, Joanna’s dream of living in her own flat came true when she moved out of her family home to live with two other people with learning disabilities.

Unfortunately, achieving her dream of an office job has not been as successful for Joanna. Although she has had interviews, no one has chosen to employ her.

Having done a college work experience placement with Sunnybank, Joanna decided she wanted to volunteer for Sunnybank. As a supported volunteer, Joanna now works one day a week in the office.

Joanna’s learning disability means she takes longer than most people to process her verbal responses, but this does not stop her being incredibly articulate. Joanna herself has spoken about how difficult it is when people do not understand her needs.

At Sunnybank we love having Joanna in the office, and the few small changes we’ve made to suit Joanna’s needs have helped us all be better colleagues to everyone in the office:

· We make sure to explain things step-by-step, in a logical order.

· We ask people to do one thing at a time.

· We give everyone time to think and respond to questions.

· We have an easy read script for how to answer the phone.

At Sunnybank Joanna is continuing to learn transferable skills and build up work experience for her CV. Joanna set out her goals, telling us what she wanted to accomplish at work. We are all working with her to ensure she can reach them. From answering the phone to data entry, organising event boxes to making marketing materials, first and foremost Joanna is developing her confidence in the workplace and we’re all incredible proud of her.

‘Joanna is a delight and extremely capable – if only employers were able to look beyond her disability and see her true potential.’
~ CEO, Sunnybank


*Names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.