EmployAbility – still changing lives
This week, in the lead-up to this year’s Chairman’s Awards ceremony in London, we continue to interview our finalists to find out more about their projects and what it means to them to reach the final.
To celebrate our accolade as Responsible Business of the Year 2014, we have a special Volunteer of the Year Award this year. This award recognizes exceptional efforts by individuals who have given time in their local communities, galvanized others to get involved and made a difference to their cause.
Both finalists for this award were nominated by their colleagues and our second Volunteer of the Year award finalist interview is with Mark Pickles from the UK for his work to develop EmployAbility.
Mark Pickles, TSO Project Manager, Intraday
What can you tell us about your initiatives?
EmployAbility ‘changes lives’. The chilling context is that only 7% of students with special educational needs achieve paid employment, which has far reaching social and economic consequences. We provide supported internships for these students to build their confidence, develop their skills, raise their aspirations and provide steps onto the career ladder for them. These students demonstrate that they have untapped talent. It also truly places National Grid in the community.
What does it mean to you to reach the final of the Chairman’s Awards?
For me it is recognition of everyone who volunteers and gives freely of their time and energy to support EmployAbility. And that is a massive team across the company – from our site leads, job coaches, business sponsors, graduates and mentors through to colleagues who provide support to the interns in the workplace – along with the many staff from our partner schools.
What are you most looking forward to about the ceremony?
Seeing the great initiatives that colleagues are delivering across the US and UK businesses. Very inspiring and motivational.
Mark’s nominator believed he should win the Volunteer of the Year Award because …
Mark Pickles has made exceptional efforts in providing an inspirational role-model and pioneering highly innovative best practices that galvanise others to get involved; ranging from ‘Why do people stare?’ through to EmployAbility.
He has received effusive praise for instilling enthusiasm and new-found ‘life-changing’ confidence of special needs students, who are directly benefiting from EmployAbility. Their job coaches and visiting parents, special educational need teachers, college staff, government policy advisers and even a visiting government minister, together with our own employees, recognize the difference this has made to our supported interns and every National Grid employee that they come into contact with.
The results speak for themselves … Mark’s work has dynamically changed a number of young disadvantaged people’s lives and in the process has made hundreds, if not thousands, of employees more disability confident and aware – as well as prouder to work for National Grid!
Mark’s unrelenting passion and positive drive for this initiative, while displaying complete humility and honesty throughout, make him a truly deserved winner of this award!