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How The Camden Society supported Frances Mostafa to become a school dinner lady

How The Camden Society supported Frances Mostafa to become a school dinner lady









Francis says she is aware that in many workplaces there is a stigma against people with a learning disability; but with the support of The Camden Society she has overcome this to successfully settle into work as a dinner lady.

Despite the drive to help more people with a learning disability to find work, Frances previously struggled to access support with this. However, thanks to support from our Employment Team, she has now been able to secure paid employment.

Frances has always wanted to work. Her first job was stacking shelves in a shop whilst she was still at school. She started volunteering 20 years ago at Greenwood Place, helping to run bingo evenings and other activities. After Gaining an NVQ in administration, she worked as a receptionist and assistant to the manager.

She then trained in catering at our social enterprise cafes Applejacks, Kenwood House and Flapjacks. She is still a strong supporter of Flapjacks and is a regular customer.

In 2014, with the support of her employment advisor Daniel Estrada at The Camden Society Frances found the confidence to put her CV onto various recruitment websites. She was snapped up very quickly by the Academy Recruitment agency, which specialises in recruiting staff for schools.

Since then, she has worked in 20 schools for all age groups all over London and beyond. There have been challenges: sometimes she has had to start very early in the morning; and sometimes she has found it difficult to form relationships with colleagues and feel part of the team. However, Frances has found the confidence to overcome this and establish successful working relationships. She enjoys the work, takes all that is offered and particularly likes working with younger children. A demonstration of her skills and performance in the workplace is that she is consistently asked to return to work at the same schools.

Frances has recently had enough temporary work to keep her employed most days during term time. During periods when she does not have work, Daniel continues to support her to apply for permanent positions, by forwarding details about suitable job opportunities.

He says that she is very clear about her skills and that she wishes to work in schools. If a job application simply requires Frances to send off her CV, she is quite capable of doing this herself. If an application form or covering letter is required, Daniel will support her with the application. Frances then feels very confident and able to go to interviews by herself, without needing him therefor support.

Frances’s work enables her to pay the bills and also to do nice things for herself, like going out and buying a new dress to attend a family wedding. Her progress and experience is the perfect example of why we support people with a learning disability to develop the skills and confidence to get into regular work and play an active role in the community.