On October 27, this article appeared in the Sandton Chronicle:
The doors to the corporate world became wide open after the group of 15 youngsters, who completed a six-month work readiness programme at The Living Link, an organisation which supports the development of intellectually impaired adults and then places them in jobs.
Alexander Forbes has partnered with The Living Link and they have organised a one-year internship programme for the 15 youngsters. Their roles will be to co-ordinate the informal break-away areas and coffee stations on seven floors of the company’s head office in Sandton.
Veralyn Lambert, the company’s facilities soft services manager is in charge of the youngsters at the group’s head office. She said, “Each and every one of them [has] a character of their own.”
Lambert said ever since she started working with the youngsters in August this year, she has learned how to play a balancing game with each of their personalities. “They tend to take things personally, so we help them understand that not everything is their fault. They take pride in what they do. You can see that working here for them is a sense of achievement.”
Hayley Hall, one of the interns, said working at Alexander Forbes had given her a sense of independence. Before obtaining this opportunity to work at the company, Hall was at home struggling to find a job. “It’s nice to now have something to talk about when you get together with your friends,” she said.
“I can now tell them how my day was at work too. Everyone should be given an equal opportunity.”
Another intern, Raymond Haupt who has a physical disability, added that regardless of race or disability, everyone deserved to be given a chance. Colleague Mareline Phakati, said the internship was helping her to pay her fees at The Living Link and she could now afford to pay for other things that she needed.
The company wants to encourage more corporates to offer places of work to youngsters with intellectual and physical disabilities. “Our higher purpose in partnering with The Living link is to have a lasting and positive impact on society,” said Edward Kieswetter, group chief executive at Alexander Forbes.
“We hope that providing these young adults with an opportunity to increase their independence and a higher quality of life, demonstrates this.”