Here at Team Domenica we are proud to be making a
real difference not only to our candidates’ lives but also
to those in our wider community. Check out some of our
success stories here.
When he first started at Team Domenica, Michael did not think about his future. He found it hard to speak to others and would often keep to himself. However, through his time at the charity’s training centre and roastery, he began to gain more experience, skills and self-belief.
“Team Domenica has helped me build my confidence and learn new skills, as well as helping me manage myself when things become challenging.” – Michael, Team Domenica Candidate
In October 2021, Michael started his Supported Internship at The Edge Tea & Coffee and quickly began impressing his colleagues. With the support of his Team Domenica job coach, Michael was able to confidently begin working front of house. In fact, he enjoyed his role so much that he began finding extra shifts independently! Michael’s hard work soon led to a job offer and Team Domenica continue to assist him, and his employers, through the Wrap Around Programme. This support has helped Michael look to the future with newfound hope; he now sees his true potential and is beginning to look to new adventures with excitement.
“I have been offered paid work which makes me feel good and independent. Team Domenica has given me hope for the future; it’s a nice feeling to think I don’t always have to rely on other people.”
Charles left college, fearing he would never be accepted for who he is and had no chance at a future. But, after working closely with Team Domenica’s teachers and training mentors, his outlook took a turn for the better as he gained the work skills he needed and developed self-confidence in a supportive environment. Charles soon achieved his employment qualification and moved onto his Supported Internship at The Grand Hotel in Brighton; he fitted into the team seamlessly. He was accepted with open arms, impressed the staff with his ability and has recently been offered paid work as a Hall Porter!
“I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve achieved. The Grand staff have accepted me and they really see me as a hard worker.” – Team Domenica Candidate Charles
Not only has there been an evident progression in his skills, but Charles’ happiness and friendly demeanour is infectious. Once claiming to only find comfort in his hobby of acting, Charles now has the tools and confidence to know that he can be successful. He has a renewed faith in his capabilities and is able to see the numerous prospects he has before him. Of his journey, Charles says…
“I feel a lot happier in myself and feel there is a path in life I can take. I feel part of a great community. I feel like I’m able to be a lot more open about my learning disabilities and feel accepted. I feel like I have a future ahead of me.”
“When I look back two years to when she first joined Team Domenica, I see a very different Alex to the one I see today…
Alex has not had a particularly easy life. Quite apart from her learning disability, she has had to face some major struggles… For a long time, Alex found it difficult to articulate the feelings that she had – like anxiety, embarrassment, worry and anger. As a consequence, she would often become upset and cry, detaching herself from group activities.” – Jonathan, Alex’s father
Since joining Team Domenica, both Alex’s father and our staff have seen a huge turn around in Alex’s outlook on life. Our holistic approach was the key to bringing about this change and helping Alex – rather than insisting on 100% engagement on her training course, Team Domenica focused on helping Alex reach a point where she was happy again. When she isolated herself, we appealed to her generous nature by suggesting that she help another candidate; we developed her communication skills by asking her to explain what she was thinking and feeling. From these conversations, Alex began to understand herself and her own needs.
With the support of staff and the kindness of her fellow candidates, Alex began to find the courage and confidence to become involved in Team Domenica’s activities, and now actively participates and enjoys them.
“Challenges that she would have shrunk from 18 months ago she now embraces! I have witnessed Alex becoming an increasingly self-confident, articulate, independent and happy young woman – so much so that by her second year, Alex’s one-to-one support was not felt to be necessary.” – Jonathan
Alex has experienced such an incredible transformation. With the support of our friends at Grace Eyre, Alex has even become an independent traveller, able to get from home to each of our projects – something that would have been hard to imagine when she first arrived at Team Domenica. She is a ray of light, projecting and lifting everyone’s mood with her infectious attitude – we cannot imagine Team Domenica now without her.
“Team Domenica has made me happy.” – Alex
Before Josh joined Team Domenica, his parents were convinced that his autism, communication difficulties and anxiety would mean that his dream to work in the catering industry would never become a reality. With Team Domenica, he completed educational modules, which helped him to develop his communication skills, along with practical skills such as money-handling. Our enrichment activities allowed him to gain confidence, develop social skills, build strong friendships – and even meet his girlfriend, Frankie! But it was putting his new skills into practise in Café Domenica that his passion for catering really shone through.
Team Domenica was able to match Josh to a supported internship with Jurys Inn. Josh’s Job Coach worked with him to manage his anxiety using his love of rules and his role was adjusted to focus on tasks where his autism helped him to excel.
“It’s tough to be alone. Team Domenica and Jurys Inn are always there for me. They give me the confidence to never give up and keep trying.” – Josh
Team Domenica also provided training for the Jurys Inn team to help them understand Josh and his needs.
“Josh is a valued work colleague, but it is true that we sometimes don’t understand his behaviour. The training has been really helpful for our team and we now better understand Josh.” Natalie Perez, waitress at Jurys Inn.
Less than a year from when he first stepped foot in the hotel, Josh was offered paid employment at Jurys Inn! Then just a few months later, Josh was nominated for the Most Outstanding Person Award at the Brighton and Hove Hotelier Awards – and he won!
“When I won the award it made me jump up and scream with happiness!” – Josh
“I am very happy as I love working. I’m a baker so I’m so pleased that Team Domenica helped me to get a job making cakes for the afternoon teas at The Grand hotel.”
When Zac first joined Team Domenica, he had high levels of anxiety and found it hard to be in group situations. Lacking in confidence, he found social interaction very difficult, often isolating himself from others and choosing not to take part in activities.
We quickly recognised Zac’s potential as a natural and talented baker. Through in-house work experience at Café Domenica and taking part in our enrichment programme, Zac’s ability to manage his anxiety and difficult situations greatly improved. Our supported employment programme offered him high levels of social interaction and continued to develop his communication skills, confidence and independence.Based on his career aspirations, our Employment Centre matched Zac to a supported internship with partnered employer The Grand hotel. With ongoing support to Zac and the employer, a permanent position of paid employment was offered.
“What an eye-opener, a journey I thought I’d never take, but so very glad I did. Working with Zac has taught me so much about myself and he has been an inspiration – his dedication, commitment and confidence has grown to unbelievable heights, to which I applaud him, it is an absolute pleasure to offer Zac a position at The Grand hotel.” Alan White, Executive Chef, The Grand
“I am the first person to get paid work at Team Domenica. I have never in my life been first at anything, it’s such a brilliant feeling. It’s great to feel valued.”
Natasha came to Team Domenica with little work experience, but with aspirations for paid work.
Confident, kind and talkative, her in-house placement and training at Team Domenica have given Natasha the additional skills needed to secure a placement ideally suited to her natural abilities. Working in the Café and role play exercises helped significantly improve Natasha’s communication and listening skills, essential for effective and professional customer service.
Natasha now works on one of the doughnut stalls on Brighton Pier. With the support of her job coach, she has found it easy to develop strategies to rise to any new challenges and her initial placement quickly consolidated into three shifts of fully paid work. Brighton Pier has remarked that her exemplary reliability and timekeeping have been a real asset over busy weekend periods.
Written by Team Domenica volunteer writer Julie Middleton