Posted on: Wednesday 10 February 2021
Andrew Wilkinson's journey with ESF funded project Bridges into Work 2 in 2020 lifted everyone’s spirits, following his successful move into meaningful employment at the start of the New Year.
18 years ago Andrew, who lives in Cwmbran, was paralysed from his chest down due to a road traffic accident.
After his accident, Andrew completed a recovery programme at Rookwood hospital and volunteered there and for spinal charities, helping others adapt to their new lives as wheelchair users.
Whilst receiving treatment at Rookwood, Andrew was able try out lots of different sports. Having excelled at Javelin, he earned a place in the Welsh squad and represented Great Britain in the world championships.
Prior to his accident, he worked full time as a scaffolder, which he loved. Whilst still recovering and enjoying his sport, seeking employment was always at the forefront of Andrew's mind.
Considered as long term unemployed and having no formal qualifications, he made contact with the Bridges into Work 2 programme, where he received support from Employment Mentors Aled and Jaki, who discussed a range of employment and training opportunities that he could pursue.
Jaki worked with Andrew to develop an action plan of training and development opportunities, bespoke to Andrew’s aspirations to work in Assistive Technology (devices, software, or equipment that helps people work around challenges so they can learn, communicate, and function better).
Andrew went on to complete an online learning course for Covid 19 Prevention, received an updated CV tailored to his unique skills and attributes and was able to secure his preferred job as a Assistive Technologist at Rookwood Hospital.
It's a dream job for Andrew, a place where he can inspire and motivate others and take some of the fear away by drawing on his own personal experience and expertise.
Andrew said: "From the start, Jaki made me feel comfortable and gave me the confidence to believe in myself. She took the time to talk about my interests, explore the different courses available and helped me put together a fantastic C.V.”
I received calls every day in the lead up to the interview and as a result, my self-esteem had been boosted and it gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
I will be forever grateful to Jaki and the team and would say to anyone wanting to explore their employment or training options, to get in touch with the Bridges into Work 2, it could be life changing for you. It certainly has been for me."
Executive Member for Economy, Skills & Regeneration, Councillor Joanne Gauden, said: “Andrew’s story is truly inspirational. He has proved that no matter what life throws at you, with the right support, you can achieve anything. Andrew has shown so much determination and motivation and trusted the process.
The Bridges into Work 2 team is both unique and vital to the success of the local employment challenge we are currently experiencing. Their dedication, skills and enthusiasm has made a massive difference to Andrew and I really hope others will be inspired by Andrew, I know I am. Well done Andrew, I wish you all the best for the future.“
If you have a disability or health condition and want to benefit from the support Andrew received, please contact Torfaen Employability Team on 01633 647743 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also complete our Employment engagement form here and a member of the team will contact you.