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A Lichfield woman says she is hoping to give something back to a charity which helped her into employment.
Charlotte Aspley has recently celebrated her tenth anniversary of working for Tesco in the city.
But charity Mencap says that just 6% of people across the UK with a learning disability are in paid employment.
Speaking during Learning Disability Work Week, Charlotte said the charity’s support had been crucial in helping her to find work.
“I had a Mencap job coach who helped me with job applications and work placements,” she said. “I did research on what jobs were out there that might be suitable for me.
“I don’t drive, so Mencap supported me to apply for jobs near where I live.
“When I was first offered a job at Tesco Extra, I was delighted, I wasn’t expecting it at all.
“Having a job means so much to me – it’s my independence, paying my way, buying what I want and being able to go on holiday. I feel valued. My parents were delighted for me too.”
Charlotte also thanked colleagues and customers after clocking up her work anniversary.
“I love my job and work with a very supportive team,” she said. “Ten years has gone by so fast and it has been really enjoyable.
I started off as a bag packer, but moved onto the tills really quickly.
“The best thing about my job is I have regular customers, who even ask for me when I’m not in.
“I know all the people I work with and we have a good old giggle at work.”
David Harmon, store manager at Tesco in Lichfield, added: “We are proud to be celebrating Charlotte’s ten years of service.
“Charlotte is a great asset to our team and a shining example of how colleagues with learning disabilities can flourish within Tesco.”
Charlotte now intends to continue supporting the charity which helped her when she leads a squad of runners with a learning disability in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon.
She explained: “I wanted to give something back to Mencap after all the support they’d given me, getting my first job ever at Tesco.
“So now I am going to be running my fifth marathon for Mencap to mark them being the official charity partner of the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon next year.
“Tesco have been really supportive – they donated money to my fundraising and put on a tombola, things like that. They’ve been brilliant.”