Meet Customer Assistant, Jocelin

Jocelin tells us about her experience at M&S as a person with a disability and why she joined the Ability & Buddy colleague network.

My name is Jocelin and I'm a Customer Assistant at Marks & Spencer. I have a spinal injury and I'm registered disabled and have been for nearly 30 years now so it's quite a significant spinal injury. My spine is basically supported with quite a lot of metal work.

I am quite limited in the tasks that I can actually perform. My main role is as a Customer Assistant on the tills. A lot of adjustments have been made - I consider myself very fortunate. The physical adjustments that were made were made fairly early on in my contract with Marks & Spencer. Where I sit there wasn't any foot stools and, because I need to have my legs supported, Marks & Spencer and my Line Manager arranged for special foot stools to be bought and put in place so that actually every Customer Assistant had a foot stool to rest their feet on.

When I first started, I was taken on as a Christmas worker last year and I wasn't sure if I would be physically able to do the job but I was very keen to do it. After the first shift, I was struggling and I was in quite a lot of pain. I had a word with my Line Manager, Alison, and I said to her "I don't think I'm going to be able to do a 12 hour contract" and she was absolutely brilliant. She said "We want you, we're very happy to keep you so what do we need to do to accomplish that?". And I was blown away at just how accommodating they were and just how very helpful they were and supportive.

The role, the initial role as it was advertised was a temporary Customer Service Assistant and I went into that thinking, I don't know if Marks & Spencer will be able to accommodate me and my disability. And they have proved time and time again that they are willing to address any issue, no matter how large or how small, to be inclusive and to have me as part of the team.

I do think that I've very well supported within Marks & Spencer at Kingsgate in East Kilbride. The staff are all lovely and without being overtly "Oh you're disabled, let me help you" I feel part of the team. And that is absolutely everything to me - to be involved and to be a team member.

When I saw the Buddy scheme, I thought I'd quite like to be part of that. A to try and give back because I do feel like I've been very lucky in my journey and if there was anything that I could share that would help then I wanted to be part of that. And I also thought, being a disabled person, with the best will in the world, it can be quite an isolating experience. So I thought if I sign up for the Buddy Scheme then there's other people that know exactly what I've been through and I thought it would be an extra level of support.

I've been absolutely blown away by the level of support that I've received from my Line Manager and the other members of staff and right across the board really with Marks & Spencer. I'm so proud to say that I work for Marks & Spencer and I'm proud to be a disabled person working for Marks & Spencer. I would encourage anybody, no matter what their level of disability, to try.

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