Stevie Hayes started working in the cafés in September, and now also spends one day a week in our office.
In many places of work I might not be accepted. Being autistic and dyslexic can be a massive ball and chain for me, so to be accepted somewhere like For Jimmy means a lot.
When I first started at the cafés back in September, I was really nervous because I don’t like meeting new people. I just came for one day and I felt really welcomed. That soon escalated to having a job working at weekends in the cafés, and on Wednesday’s in the office.
I think when it comes to the world of work; certain things will always hold me back. Keeping time, getting organised and coordination can be difficult, along with reading, writing and doing maths. When you first go into the world of work you have everyone watching you and they may not understand, but that’s what I felt was different working here. I felt accepted. Working in the cafés has made me more confident, especially in my speaking. I’ve often felt like I’m not listened to as a young adult with additional needs. There can be a stereotype attached to me that my opinion doesn’t matter.
When I first met Danny, Jimmy’s oldest brother, I just thought it would be another work experience that wouldn’t affect me in any way. But I noticed that when I started, not only did he listen; he always tries his absolute hardest to get me what I really want.
When I talk about what I want to do with my future, like working in media and doing photography. Sometimes it feels like I’m just being spoken to, with no real path of communication to discuss it. That is one of the most difficult things, feeling like I have no control over it. With Danny, it actually felt like he was giving me a chance. He told me I may fail and that’s fine, because I will have the chance to fail instead of not being given one at all. I feel like he forgets that I’m autistic and dyslexic, and that’s what I need. Not people to just completely forget it, but for people to think that I’m Stevie first with autism and dyslexia attached, rather than the other way round.
I want a chance to choose my own future, rather than have people choose it for me. I want to see myself do what I want to do. At the moment it may seem a bit unsteady, but I know with help from my family and the charity, I’ll get there.
Stevie recently appeared in our crowdfunding campaign to save The Café of Good Hope. You can see the campaign and pledge to support it here.