Taking part in employability programme changed my life

Yoirgis perris

Yiorgis Perris reveals how learning the skills required for employment helped him to flourish in the workplace

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15th February 2019 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

My name is Yiorgos Perris.  I am a 22-year-old man, I live in South Queensferry and I have autism.   I wanted to get a job but I knew I needed help so I completed an employability course, did work placements and volunteer work, but none of this got me a job.  I found out about Edinburgh Project SEARCH which is an employability programme for young people with a recognised disability and is part of the DFN Foundation.

There’s two sites in Edinburgh; one at the City of Edinburgh Council and one at NHS Lothian.  Each year, 26 young people take part in the programme and complete three full time work experience placements.  I completed my placements at the council and started in the procurement department, which I loved and I was able to do my second placement there too, before I moved onto the licensing team.  I learned a lot from both roles, which I could take with me to my future jobs.

We learn the skills required for work but we also learn how to be an employee - for most of us, we have never had a job before and aren’t sure how to behave or what’s expected of us.  We learn the business’s policies and procedures and are supported to learn the ‘unwritten rules’ of a workplace - this can be the hardest part to understand due to our disabilities.  We are expected to learn a real job and, as we become more independent, the level of support given to us reduces.  By the end of the programme we have the skills and experience required to enter mainstream employment. 

Edinburgh Project SEARCH arranged for me to take part in Dou Day and I spent the day at the Scottish Parliament with MSPs Jamie Hepburn, Jeanne Freeman and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.  I told them all about my hopes for my future, Edinburgh Project SEARCH and how it was helping me.

Yiorgis Perris

Yiorgis Perris

When I finished the programme, I got a job with Amey Plc as a business administrator.  Having a job is a hugely rewarding experience in more ways than one.  I did a lot of voluntary work over the years so to be paid for my hard work is a real sense of achievement.  I am being recognised for my skills and talent and am being treated just like everyone else. 

I wrote to the MSPs I met on Duo Day to let them know that my hard work had paid off and I got a lovely response from Jamie Hepburn, who arranged for me to meet with Christine Jardine, my local MP.  I met with Ms Jardine and told her my story - and my strong belief that, if it were not for the support I received, I would still be looking for work instead of being an active, tax paying member of society and an asset to a supportive organisation.  I wish the government would encourage and support more employers to be more inclusive and break down the barriers to employment.  There are so many people out there like me, who just want a chance to use their skills and earn their own money.  Edinburgh Project SEARCH is a fantastic programme, offering young people the chance to better their future and achieve their dreams.  It has changed my life!

If you can support Edinburgh Project SEARCH by offering employment, work placements or becoming part of the Business Advisory Committee, please contact [email protected] / 0131 529 3139.

Yiorgis Perris is a business administrator for Amey Plc