A Case Study by Sam Coleman of the Wise Group

Case Study – Michael Ratcliffe

I first met Michael back in April 2018. Before I’d joined the Wise Group Michael had just been through a call centre academy with us and had subsequently moved into employment. Sadly Michael didn’t take to the training that well and hadn’t received the support he needed while at work. Michael is autistic and has certain requirements while learning new information.

He wanted to do admin so we discussed his CV and where he’d like to work. I had already become rather fond of Michael and started to understand him better each time we met. He already knew how old I was, how many family members I had and indeed how old they are. We had spent a lot of time together while I worked to arrange an admin placement for him in Dundee. Michael is an absolute joy to work with and he clearly has a lot to offer.

I had to be fairly strategic as to where Michael could work. Initially he’d need support in any role but only to the point where he felt he’d learned enough to do the job properly. So I approached DC Thomson and banged on their door until I spoke with Dawn Forrester their Employability Programme Coordinator. Dawn was instrumental in Michael’s journey to where he is now. Initially she arranged for Michael to have a private tour around the DC Thomson printing presses (which I went to as well and massively nerded out over the vast array of beautiful machines).

She then took him into their admin office for a week to get a taster of what DC Thomson office life is like. She ensured Michael was supported throughout and her staff really looked after him which I appreciated greatly.

Dawn then sent me a number of contacts in Dundee that would be worth approaching to find Michael a longer term work placement. One of these contacts was Kirsty Thomson, founder and CEO of Circle Scotland and social entrepreneur extraordinaire. After talking about Michael I was asked to visit the Circle and speak at Charity Chit Chat. Here I had the pleasure of meeting Simona Davidson. Simona had spent some with Michael while he was at College. As she knew Michael better than I she offered some insight into what she felt Michael should be doing. Interestingly this was not administration. At this point I started to worry a little bit. What would Michael think?

The Circle needed a Maintenance Assistant to come on as a volunteer. In this role Michael would be setting up rooms for events, checking the toilets, taking meter readings and any general tasks as required. After further conversations with Kirsty we arranged for Michael to spend 13 weeks with them volunteering as a Maintenance Assistant.  Michael was understandably a tad reluctant so I took him up to see the offices, get a feel for the scope of the place and meet some of the staff. I introduced Michael to Paul Hastie, General Manager at The Circle, and Paul was kind enough to give us the grand tour. After meeting Paul Michael was sold.

Michael started his placement quite happily and within weeks had his feet firmly under the table. Paul saw the potential in Michael that I and many others had seen. He wanted to take Michael on as an employee at the Circle and applied for funding through Community Jobs Scotland scheme, which is delivered by the SVCO working in partnership with the Scottish Government and Scotland’s third sector;

https://scvo.org.uk/jobs/community-jobs-scotland

It was touch and go for a while but the application was successful and I’m delighted to say that Michael is now a full time member of staff. The change in him is quite something. The way he walks, the way he talks and how he carries himself has changed dramatically. What occurred to me only recently was the amount of people across Dundee that had gladly lent their time to help. Michael has some great people skills but the list of people that offered their support during his journey is quite something.

I met Michael in April and promised him I’d find him a job before Christmas. It’s been a real journey but thanks to a handful of good people, who have been more than generous with their time, I kept my promise to him. I’m incredibly proud of him. I’m thankful for the kindness of people. And I’m a tiny bit proud of myself. Belief in someone can often go a long way.

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