Amazing Abdi Lands His Dream Job


One of the inspire* charities, Henshaws, supports people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to go beyond expectations. They shared one recent success story:

One of our key support programmes is based around collaborating with over 40 partner organisations (Including Businesses, Social Enterprises, Charites and Corporate partners) in the Greater Manchester area to help work towards a society in which people with sight loss can fully participate.

We achieve this through running, Skillstep which is a 12week course. The course is available to anyone of a working age in Greater Manchester with a Visual Impairment who is looking to get back into work; looking for work; wanting to get into higher education or to take up a voluntary position. It blends a mix of IT, career guidance and work placement.  The programme is run throughout the year but the group size is deliberately kept small, which allows learners to get the support they need, as well as giving them the chance to meet other like-minded people. As part of the course they will also attend a 2week work placement, which aims to help them gain experience in an area that they are interested.

There have been a number of local successes including Abdi who following his 2week work experience managed to secure full-time employment at WSP, one of the world’s leading professional services firms, in September last year.

He was recognised recently due to his transformational personal journey over the past year. After being diagnosed with Stargardt macular dystrophy, an inherited eye condition that affects central and detailed vision, Abdi did not acknowledge his visual impairment and wouldn’t talk about his condition to his friends or family. However, since being introduced to Henshaws through their Skillstep programme, Abdi has gone through a huge journey.

Whilst at Henshaws, Abdi was instrumental in a number of projects at the Specialist College in Harrogate. Abdi has a degree in Construction and Project management with computer aided design skills, and used this to create a 3D walkthrough for a specialist Autism Unit. This was hugely beneficial to the architects and builders, as well as helping to secure funders and promoting to potential service users. This project was so successful that he then went onto transform two residential units into office space for staff.

From a young man that would not recognise his visual impairment, Abdi’s inspirational transformation was apparent when in December 2015, Abdi came to speak at the Henshaws’ annual carol concert at Manchester Cathedral in front of over 800 guests. He shared his story of denial and struggles before his journey through Skillstep, where he found comfort in others with the same eye condition as him. He also spoke of how he’s challenged and overcome barriers, leading him to a more positive place now. Although unaccustomed to public speaking, Abdi was an inspirational speaker, and it really was a remarkable step forward from the year prior.

Abdi recently received recognition at the Henshaws awards where he was awarded the Gillian Lawrence award which is given to the individual who overcomes personal barriers to be a positive role model for others.

Stewart Graham, Individual Giving Manager says:

“When visual impairment goes unnoticed or neglected, it can really lower people’s self-esteem, as even something that seems trivial like not being able to see the board at school can make a huge difference. So when we awarded Abdi with the Gillian Lawrence and he said that he’d never won an award before, it was heart-warming! We’re so glad we can help boost this young man’s confidence and support him to find his dream job.”

It is an outcome focussed, evidence based programme making a difference to the lives of people with a Visual Impairment.

There are two main areas of focus to achieve our objectives and these are:

  1. To enable people with sight loss to develop and re-learn the skills they need to fully participate
  2. To work collaboratively with key organisations across the community to break down barriers to enable participation.

Of those attending in 2015, 71% of Skillstep learners are now either volunteering, in further study or are in paid employment.

The social return on investment that the course generates. We produced a social impact calculation that demonstrated that for every £1 spent on supporting the course £1.63 is returned in social value.