Kamahl; I feel really proud, and honoured to work here.

I have to say I’m very excited today, for many reasons. I’m on my way to meet Kamahl who’s recently started a Kickstart placement at Nottingham Castle, the sun is shining, and for once I’m able to actually do an interview in person. Plus I get to have a good look inside the amazing, brand new visitor centre!

Kamahl and his supervisor, Ted, walk down from the Ducal Palace to meet me and we head to the refurbished bandstand with its views out across Nottingham; I have to say it’s one of the nicest places I’ve done an interview! It turns out they’re as happy as I am to be meeting up today, they’re obviously super busy looking after everything but their warm welcome and smiles show just how important it is for them to share Kamahl’s story and about the support he’s had from Bestwood Partnership and Nottingham Castle.

Kamahl; “Before I started here, I was at Basford Hall College, doing multi-skills, so bricklaying, joinery and carpentry, tiling, painting and plastering. I was also working at Nottingham Forest for about six and a half years, as a match-day steward, so from when I was 16 until June this year. I was referred to the Bestwood Partnership in March 2021, Nicola rang me, she listened and understood my needs with my autism.

“The support started when I saw a kickstart vacancy to work in Nottingham Castle as a Facilities Assistant, I really wanted to apply for this due to skills I already had. Nicola’s guidance and support started with updating my C.V. and completing a covering letter so I could apply. When I got an interview Nicola helped me with interview skills and building my confidence. She worked with me on possible questions and we did a mock interview, on the day I attended the interview I was really excited and felt prepared.

“I was over the moon when I was offered the job, I felt this would be a new chapter in my life. I would like to thank Nicola for her continued support both with the run up to my start date and after. I feel without this support I wouldn’t be where I am today working at the Nottingham Castle and would recommend Bestwood Partnership, and the team, to everyone. Now working at Nottingham Castle I get support from Ted my manager and I know that I can pick up the phone and call Nicola at any time if I need anything.”

Ted adds;  “With Kamahl we knew that he had his own challenges, which he was really honest with us about, and in a way that was one of the things that impressed me about him; his willingness, his desire to learn and better himself and he was bringing such enthusiasm to the role, we couldn’t say no to that. We said, this person deserves a chance to be part of this team.

“As Kamahl has found out, it’s difficult to get a job without experience, you’re in a catch 22, so I wasn’t looking for someone who already had the skills, I was much more interested in someone’s attitude and aptitude; you know, both my kickstart employees have that, and it was a delight to be able to give them a job.”

So, Kamahl, you and Ted have talked about your autism, how has Ted supported you?

“I feel that I’ve got a lot of help from Ted and from my colleagues which I really appreciate. For me, I always want to have a routine, getting up and going to work benefits me as a person and for my autism, so that’s also played a part in helping me, and to be given a chance to better myself.”

Had you had many job interviews before?

“I did, but erm, unfortunately I got declined so when Ted rang me to say that I’d got the job, I was over the moon! I was really excited about it, this is a proper opportunity! Because I’m autistic, I want to show to other people, to say, that it doesn’t matter what learning difficulty or disability you’ve got, as long as you’ve got the motivation you can do anything. 

“It doesn’t matter what disability you guys have, there’s help there and if you’ve got the motivation you can achieve anything; believe in yourself and you’ll be a success.”

Working in facilities, what’s a typical day like?

“So, I start at nine o’clock, and I could be doing loads of different jobs from cleaning the kids play area to bits of fixing and maintenance work, and grounds work, there’s lots of variety. College was more construction based but I thought I could use that as a transferable skill in maintenance and that, I feel it’s a natural step, one hundred percent.”

So I can tell you like your job because you’re smiling as you talk about it, and I’m sure that’s not just because the boss is standing here! What do you like most about your job?

“Everybody is so, like, nice here, the one thing I love about the job is I feel like I’m giving something to the community. I feel really proud, and honoured to work here. Everything’s so new here, and I feel like I look after the castle for Nottingham people, ensuring everything’s working for the people who come. Also, I just like coming to work because every day’s not the same, every day’s like a new day, so that’s why I love coming here to work. It’s a good steady job and I really love it here.”

Ted adds; “We’ve all benefited from that because Kamahl is so positive, we enjoy having him around, he’s a really good person to have on the team. I’m new to the castle, so the Nottingham Castle Trust is starting from scratch, the whole team, from the top down is new. I came on board in November last year, as facilities manager and my job is to build up the whole facilities side and operational running of the site. I’m proud of it, it’s our job now to look after it and maintain it, and on a day like today with loads of people in, it’s great.

“It’s not a big team, I’ve got Kamahl and another kickstart person working on the team, three technicians and cleaning staff, we’re a fairly small team to run a big site. Kickstart is a fantastic opportunity, I genuinely wanted the opportunities of kickstart to be of benefit for people.”

Finally Kamahl, how has Kickstart helped you think about future careers?

“It’s given me experience, to work on my career, what I knew before I came here, it’s given me knowledge and experience which is going to take me though my career, I’ve taken it all on board. If it wasn’t for kickstart, I’d still be applying, and applying, and applying, and since we’re just coming out of lockdown, it’s really difficult to find a job so I’m glad that kickstart came along after covid, if it wasn’t for that I’d feel like I was struggling just to find something.”

Want to know more?

If you’re aged 16 to 24, and want to find out more about partners like Bestwood Partnership, check out our Nottingham Works 4 You webpage.

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