by Libby Wilson
The power of social media got Glen Terry noticed, but it was his enthusiasm for hard yakka that got him into work boots and a high-vis shirt.
The 30-year-old, who has Down Syndrome, is proud of the job title for his first mainstream role: store manager’s assistant at Gilmours Hamilton.
“It actually warmed my heart when I got offered the position,” he said.
“I’d never had a job offer like that, ever … It felt like I was going to be one of the leaders here.”
After a week and a half working in the Te Rapa store, Terry’s learned the essentials for a good working life.
“As long as I keep the boss happy, I’m happy,” he said, with a grin at owner-operator Dayne Riddell.
“It’s not just a job for me, it’s something I want to do.”
The pair were connected by Disability Employment facilitator Selwyn Cook – and online networking service LinkedIn.
Cook hired many people with disabilities when he was running Z service stations and now helps people with disabilities get into work.
Terry was a client determined to find a part-time job, and said as much in a video Cook shared on LinkedIn.
Within a couple of days it had 25,422 views and about 101 comments, including five job opportunities – a response which amazed even Cook.
One offer was from Riddell, who thought Terry seemed like a cool guy and wanted him to come in for an interview.
“[The post] had some phenomenal number of reactions … so I thought he might be inundated with offers,” Riddell said. “But Selwyn said I was first to put my hand up and we were able to move quickly to meet with Glen, so we could take him off the market.”
Terry soon had an employment contract for three days a week and a list of tasks to keep the shop tidy.
He got through it faster than expected, so Riddell’s looking to add tasks, including stocking shelves, labelling special offers, and helping customers find what they need.
“His diligence and his personality and his approach to people, I think, will be a good asset.”
Riddell is a wonderful boss, Terry said, and the pair already bounce off each other.
Terry’s first pay is due this week, and he wants to save up for something expensive – maybe a new Playstation.
”I thought you were going to say three kilograms of Gilmours chocolate buttons,” Riddell replies.
”Do you really want me to get that big?” Terry retorts. “I want to be fit enough for this job.”
While Terry has worked in the disability sector – for example, he’s on a Government disability advisory group – this is his first mainstream job.
And he has a message for other people with disabilities who are looking for a break.
“If I can do it, you can do it, so good luck.
“Just get out there, start looking.”
Each work-day he catches the bus to the Base, then walks the 20-or-so minutes to the Gilmours store.
Terry’s job isn’t charity, Riddell said.
It’s a win-win, and he’s already proven himself very capable.
The job is a big thing for Terry and his family, Cook said.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the Waikato employers to show that they want to support not only Glen but now others like Glen.”
“I’ve just really got a passion and a commitment for this work.”
Because Cook is self-employed, he has full control over his approach, and prefers to create opportunities instead of waiting for vacancies.
“Many disabled people, responding to an ad that needs to be filled in two weeks, it doesn’t always work. You’re up against a hundred other people and it’s not easy.”