It’s seems persistence pays off, as a 29-year-old whose dream it was to work as a scaffolder finally had his wish granted after trying for two years to get the job.
Todd Scanlon, who has Down’s syndrome, has been employed by Coles Scaffolding Contractors Ltd in Swindon, Wiltshire, on a permanent basis, working two days a week.
The 29-year-old had apparently been asking the company owner, Martyn Coles, for a job for the past two years. And Martyn, who has run the scaffolding company for the last five years, has said Todd’s disability is not holding him back.
Todd is thrilled with his new job, happily carrying out jobs and cracking jokes with his new colleagues.
I like all of it except the heights. I like being at the bottom of the scaffolding best. It can be a bit scary going up high, because it can be shaky.
I like helping Colesy, my boss. I wanted to be a scaffolder because I like to help people. I carry all the tubes [poles] – the 10-foot, the 16-foot, up to the 20-foot ones.
Todd joins the other five members of the team on Mondays and Wednesdays, and gets fully kitted up, helping to assemble the scaffolding and make sure it is safe and level.
Martyn says the company has now adopted the slogan ‘No Stigma’, to show that Todd’s disability should not hold him back from having the same opportunity as others.
We just want to show that he can do it. Everyone is entitled to work. It doesn’t matter if you have a disability, or you come from a broken home, or whatever. I’m more than willing to give everyone a chance.
If you know him, you’ll know that he loves what he does. Anything you ask him to do, he’ll do it. Todd does all the same tasks as us. He’ll get the tools ready to be loaded onto the van, and he’ll bring all the fittings out from the van at each site.
He does a lot. So far, there hasn’t been any limits to what he can help with – and I don’t think there are going to be any.
Martyn, who is a close friend of Todd’s family and goes on holiday with them every year, added:
He’s been begging me for a job for a long, long time. About three months ago we started taking him on for a few shifts here and there, just to see how he got on with it.
And as of October 1, we’ve now taken him onto our books two days a week.
He’ll do whatever we ask of him and he gets on really well with the other guys – and he’ll also have a dance as soon as we put the radio on in the background while we work!
Martyn added that he is now working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CIBT), who organise all his company’s apprenticeships, to train Todd up properly, and get him his Level 2 NVQ scaffolding qualification.
Todd has even been nominated for the Swindon Advertiser’s Wiltshire Community Pride Awards, and has been shortlisted as a finalist, with the ceremony taking place on October 26.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.