Norfolk Industries for Disabled People

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Blog » Introducing Jamie our EVOLVE Assessment Officer

Introducing Jamie our EVOLVE Assessment Officer

My name is Jamie and I’m an Assessment Support Officer for EVOLVE candidates at Norfolk Industries (NI). The EVOLVE programme is aimed at people with disabilities and the long term unemployed and is designed to move people closer to work. The candidates complete an 8 to 12 week work placement with us at the factory and we also provide a menu of training and development opportunities alongside this.


I’ve been working at NI since July 2018 and I am contracted to work 6 hours per week, although you will often find me hanging around longer than that! I absolutely love what I do here, connecting with the candidates and working with an absolutely unique and special team who truly make coming to work a pleasure and not a chore.


At home I have 2 boys aged 11 and 8, my youngest has been diagnosed with autism and my oldest displays many autistic traits. They are affected in very different ways however. It does make me very passionate about learning about the condition and working out what strategies could help them.


One important aspect for me is Norfolk Industries attitude towards their disabled employees. There are days when I feel like a walking disaster zone, I have so many things wrong with me! I wear hearing aids, I suffer from depression and I have Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, which means I get lots of pain and fatigue amongst lots of other troubles. NI are sympathetic towards these issues, I can choose when I work my hours and I am confident I would be supported if I am struggling. This is worlds apart from my last job, where I was pressured, bullied and mistrusted.


A typical day at work for me would be coming at 9 after dropping the kids off at school, I usually have a chat to Julie in reception – there is always a disaster story to tell regarding the school run! Then I come upstairs, sign into my computer and catch up with my manager Sharon. She can tell me if there have been any issues with my EVOLVE candidates on my days off and if there are any urgent tasks that need to be done.


I then check which of my candidates are in that day, there is usually at least 1 person in and then I have a look at their file to see what development work we could do today. I go downstairs and say hello to my candidate and ask him to come upstairs in around an hours time. I then get on with booking some training sessions for my candidates, in this case manual handling training needs to be arranged, so I e-mail the trainer based at Independence Matters and we arrange a convenient time for him to come to the factory to do a session with 2 of my candidates.


When my candidate comes upstairs we go in to the meeting room and discuss our session and what we need to achieve, in this case we want to discuss ‘Organisational Values and Behaviours’ following a short chat to prepare the candidate, I then ask my candidate some questions about the differences between Norfolk Industries and a large corporate company and record the answers on video. Following this I give my candidate a workbook on ‘Teamwork’ and we briefly skim through the pages. I ask my candidate to complete it and bring back for the following week, when we will discuss in more detail.

Once my candidate goes back to work on the factory floor, I type up an observation sheet to accompany the video we just made to evidence the learning. Then I check my clock and suddenly realise it’s time to collect the kids from school in 5 minutes!! Typical for me to run out the door with a ‘I’m late cheerio!’