Posted 26.11.2020

Just before lockdown in March, Job Match Supported Employment Officer Maria Annett met with Robert McCurdy who had current work experience and was highly motivated to secure paid work. Robert is 25 years old with Asperger’s Syndrome and has a Higher National Diploma having graduated from Belfast Metropolitan College in 2018. With Maria’s help Robert has secured a BT Customer Services Apprenticeship. 

Maria said "Unfortunately, Robert was unable to secure a place at University and follow his dream career as Graphic Designer/ Photographer. I therefore decided to follow a different career path and sought support through the Supported Employment model for guidance."

Robert agreed to tell his story - here's what he had to say.

"A chance conversation towards the end of 2019 with a person I had just met, mentioned I should seek help from Disability Action whom I contacted early this year.

From the initial telephone contact they welcomed me to their organisation and have been very supportive in helping me to find and successfully gain employment.I was assigned my own mentor/support worker Maria Annett and we met on a weekly basis to discuss the type of job that would interest me, I would be capable of doing and most importantly enjoy.Maria was very active in searching out vacancies and she found that BT were looking applicants to fill their apprenticeship roles this year.

With Maria’s help, I submitted my application to the BT Apprenticeship scheme.I then had a telephone interview with BT which Maria prepared me for.She talked me through the process and possible questions I would be asked, how to convey my answer to the interviewer so that they would clearly understand me. That in turn helped me build confidence towards the interview, which due to my disability (Aspergers Syndrome) which makes it difficult for me to make effective communication. Her preparation with me, helped me progress to the next stage that was a Virtual Assessment.

Before this took place, Maria contacted BT to obtain reasonable adjustments for me and was very successful in her efforts in getting me additional help on the day.

The virtual assessment was held from my home over a 4hr period, with frequent breaks and again, Maria had talked me through the pre assessment details received along with the timetable given to me, as it was difficult for me to understand.

Maria went through all the preparation I needed for the assessment and made sure that I fully understood what would happen. At the end of our meeting I was fully prepared for what came up in the assessment which was 4 scenarios in the Scenario Interview including questions and answers, an Individual Proposal with questions and answers and a Reflective Interview.

The following day, I was contacted by BT and congratulated in securing an apprenticeship in their Customer Services Apprenticeship.

I would like to thank Maria Annett and Disability Action who have supported me on my journey to successfully obtaining employment and gaining confidence in my own skills and ability.   Support will not end there, as they will find support for me during my apprenticeship."


Disability Action continue to have a positive relationship with BT in their recruitment process and progressive thinking. We have also placed a referral with our ‘Workable NI' programme for longer term support for Robert. This will ensure that both the employer and employee remain supported in the workplace and help transition and sustain employment.

Maria has been employed as a Supported Employment Officer with the Job Match program for 5 years covering the Newtownabbey, Antrim, Carrick and Larne areas. She always aims to build positive employer relationships and advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities who are seeking paid employment. Maria said:

As a Supported Employment Officer, I seek to ensure equality in the workplace and empower not only individuals through 1:1 support but support employers by providing them with reasonable adjustment information and positive action measures that they can make for individuals under DDA. My experience with BT throughout this process has been extremely positive and made Roberts application process seamless. They have been proactive and forthcoming with providing all necessary reasonable adjustments to ensure Robert had a fair chance in his interview.

If you live in the Newtownabbey, Antrim, Carrick and Larne areas and need help to find paid work contact Maria:

Telephone: 028 9336 9367

Mobile/SMS: 07483 981 220

Email: [email protected]