Subcontractor case studies:
Yateley Industries for the Disabled Wanda’s story
When I left school in Bradford in 1965, the disablement recruitment officer advised me to leave home. I was unable to leave the house
because of the steps and the Yorkshire Association for the Disabled had a place in Harrogate - St George’s House.
While I was there a young man wanted to know how to do tailoring and gained a place at Treloar College. In the prospectus there was information about a new school that I was willing to try, so I attended from 1966 to 1969.
It was at this school that I learned about Yateley Industries. Because I liked art work and the printing appealed to me, I joined Yateley Industries in 1970 as a printer.
As well as work, I also lived at Yateley. (At this time it was only for girls.) I really enjoyed doing this and as time progressed I was promoted to team leader. I was able to teach new people my skills and learn more new skills, such as how to make the dye.
My social life was just as busy as I joined the Women’s Institute, which was called Yateley Venture, and a swimming club for the disabled.
I feel that Yateley has given me a full life and enabled me to integrate with the community. I go to church, which has easy access, and have made a lot of new friends. I also help the guides and went camping with them every year, despite my disabilities. I like to join in with all the activities that Yateley offers, and enjoy the trips out.
In 2001 Yateley changed from hand block printing to packaging and assembly work for mainstream companies. The reason for this was that the government made some changes and it was said that people with disabilities should be given the opportunity to learn marketable, transferable skills, so that they could then have an opportunity to work in the mainstream. Hand block printing was not a transferable skill, so changes had to be made to accommodate this.
So under Workstep and new management, the factory was transformed, along with the work that we did. It was a huge new learning curve. At first it was scary, but with supervision and guidance new skills were learned and goals were set for each of us; most of the time we were achieving them.
We gained new customers and with this kept learning new skills. Since then I have also gained some qualifications with college courses that have been held on site - the tutors come to us to make it easier, due to some of us finding it difficult with transport.
Through the years I have seen lots of people come and go as they have progressed in their lives and gone on to new jobs in the community.
I feel happy and content with what I have done in my life and what I have learned. To date I have been there for 42 years and I love it. At times I have found it challenging, but with the staff’s help and support I have made it through. I am grateful for all their help and don’t want to be anywhere else.
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