Kilmarnock Railway Heritage Trust – the right support at the right time

‘In early September 2015 I found a placement through East Ayrshire Employability, at the storm in a teacup teashop with the support of my advisers, Ashley and Angie.

I started my placement in September of 2015, three mornings a week, where I was trained in the use of the coffee machine with Rachel, and I had regular refresher training to make sure that I was keeping up to date with all the new coffee trends.

I also did a little bit of cleaning and brushed up on my customer service skills. I had regular meetings throughout this time with Ashley and Angie where I was then given a 6-month full-time contract.

I was scared as this was all new but through the support of my family and friends and work colleagues I knew that I would be able to step up to the challenge and complete it with every success.

In January as I was full-time I was given more jobs and opportunities such as mentoring new volunteers on how to use the coffee machine and giving them the support I received when I first started. I then went on to work a Saturday with other volunteers and eventually was asked to look after a team by myself one Saturday to make sure that things went smoothly. I was proud and honored, but at the same time I was nervous at the start as it was a new challenge but I had a unique team to support me. After my bosses saw how I was coping with the new challenges I was then given the new task of opening up the shop in the morning and making sure that everything was ready for the day ahead.

I have helped out with some of the events that have taken place in the Killie Browser bookshop by making tea and coffee, but the most recent one where I was put in charge of the money side was the afternoon tea in aid of Ayrshire hospice, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I looked upon this as another new challenge.

I am now going to be the volunteering ambassador for the railway station starting in July 2016. I will look at this as a new experience with the objective of gaining a high level of interpersonal skills. I will mentor and share my experiences at meetings with new volunteers and keeping in contact with the running of the Trust.

Just before Christmas 2015 I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, this was a relief to me as I was 27 years undiagnosed. I was a bit angry as well as it had taken so long and me and my family had been denied the proper support, but we are now getting it at the Kilmarnock Railway Station, through trained staff. But as my contract will be ending soon I am slightly worried, as you won’t have the support network that I have been receiving since December. I find that this is a safe place to be myself with my autism.’

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