A YOUNG man with a learning disability took on a dream job at the John Radcliffe Hospital at the start of the pandemic.

Rhodri Jones, from Headington, was supported by Oxfordshire Employment to make the transition from volunteering to paid work as a cleaner at the hospital.

The 20-year-old first became involved with the county council organisation through its Supported Internship program via Abingdon & Witney College.

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He had been working as a volunteer at the Oxford hospital delivering leaflets to the wards before getting a paid placement as a hospital porter at the nearby Warneford Hospital through the internship program.

The scheme, set up to help students with a disability in their last year of college, allows students to attend college one day a week and then Oxfordshire Employment find suitable work placements for 15 hours per week.

Mr Jones, who has dyslexia and is on the autism spectrum, said: “I’ve always loved the idea of working in a hospital, having previously volunteered at the John Radcliffe."

He said he was 'so happy' when he was able to get a placement at the mental health hospital, working as a porter, delivering supplies around the hospital and assisting the team there.

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Mr Jones added: “When my placement was coming to an end, I knew that I wanted more. I really enjoyed working in a hospital and really wanted to get a job in one.”

With the support of Oxfordshire Employment, he was able to secure employment as a cleaner at the JR through Champion Employment.

He said: “Since I started my job back in March, I feel so much more confident, and love the independence.

"My boss has even started to offer me overtime, and I am hoping to take on more hours."

Linda Walker, from Oxfordshire Employment has worked closely with Mr Jones.

She said: “While getting to know Rhodri and his family during the summer of 2019, it became clear that he was an ambitious young man and knew exactly what he wanted to do and where he wanted to work.

“Rhodri was able to go through their recruitment process with support from ourselves to ensure that he was a suitable candidate and be considered for a position.

"He made a great impression on the team at Champion and the John Radcliffe Hospital and he was offered a post cleaning in the West Wing for 20 hours per week.”

She added: “He needed some additional support to settle into his role, but this was no issue for Champion who helped us arrange support internally, where we were unable to do so because of Covid-19.

“It is wonderful to see Rhodri flourishing in his new job. He is a great example of the type of work we do at Oxfordshire Employment.

"This wouldn’t have been possible without the work between Oxfordshire Employment, Rhodri and his employers, Champion, and it is great to see that Rhodri has managed to achieve his goal of paid employment. I am so pleased for him.”

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“We’ve built-up long-term relationships with many local employers, who employ people that we have introduced and supported, and I hope we can continue to support many more.”

Dani Legard, manager at Champion’s Oxford branch, said: “Supporting Rhodri through his journey to employment has been our pleasure.

"The preparation work and management of expectations by Oxfordshire Employment has been key to this opportunity working. Rhodri is a fully integrated part of the Champion team, ensuring the job we have to do, gets done."