The day I made two grown men cry – and liked it!

It’s not often that I am in a meeting where the other people in the room spontaneously start crying. But then the sit down I had with Ally, the newest member of the Thrive team, and his Shaw Trust mentor Matt Graves was no ordinary meeting.

Ally joined Thrive a few months ago and the catch up in question was to evaluate his performance so far and decide what would happen next. I already knew that Ally would be staying with Thrive beyond the work placement organised by Matt and The Shaw Trust, but the boys didn’t. So when I happily announced Ally was to become a fully-fledged Thrive member, things got emotional.

“Lorna and Deborah have been so patient and kind with me,” says Ally, who has cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair since he was 16-years-old. “Not knowing what would happen next had made me feel a bit anxious and I really wanted to know the answer. So when Lorna told us that she’d decided to extend my contract, I was so happy.”

The Shaw Trust have been members of the Thrive networking group for several years. During that time we’ve heard wonderful stories about the work they do, and how hard they fight to make employment opportunities happen for people with physical and mental disabilities.

“I’d worked at Marsh for 35 years before I took redundancy,” explains Ally. “After all that time, I didn’t really know how to apply for a job and that in itself was fairly stressful. But once I got in contact with the Shaw Trust, they helped me identify the right jobs and showed me how to apply. Then I was away!”

At the same time as Ally was looking for work, an opportunity came up at Thrive for a new administrator. After meeting with Ally, we decided to give him a trial run at the job and he began working with Thrive at the UEA Enterprise Centre.

“Due to my disability, I am a bit slower than most and it takes me a while for things to go in,” explains Ally. “But once they are in, they’re in! So having Lorna and Deborah be so understanding has really helped me. I’ve always been very confident using the telephone so that’s no problem, it’s learning new systems that are completely alien that takes time. But you get there in the end.”thumbnail_IMG_3581a

We’re delighted with Ally and how well he’s doing as part of the Thrive team. Soon he’ll be attending more of our networking groups and getting to know all our members. Our business is all about making trusted connections and building a network, and Ally’s on his own journey to do just that. It’s been great to see The Shaw Trust, Thrive and Ally work together to make this happen.

“Ally is one of our stars!” says Matt, his Shaw Trust mentor. “He could have been written off because of his disability and it would have been a crime because he’s got so much more to give. We had some clear goals and targets for Ally, and he smashed them. It was a big moment and both me and Ally got tearful thinking about how far he’s come.”

Lorna Burroughes  Thrive – growing you, growing your business

Words by Kate White – Front Page Media