In England, 26-year old Ben Small has Down syndrome but he doesn’t want that to stop him from getting a job. Small has experience working in catering and at restaurant chains but found difficulty landing a permanent, paid position.
However, stepmother Fiona Hodge took to Twitter to help Small find a job. Her tweet said, “Won’t someone in the Liverpool area give my step son, Ben, who has Down’s Syndrome a chance at a paid job? Motivated with NVQ 2 in catering.”
The post received nearly a thousand retweets and was picked up by celebrities, including comedians Jason Manford and Boothby Graffoe. Additionally, the hashtag #GiveBenAJob began trending.
Won’t someone in the Liverpool area give my step son, Ben, who has Down’s Syndrome a chance at a paid job? Motivated with NVQ 2 in catering
— Fleabag (@FleaBagLady) March 13, 2015
Now Ben has received countless job offers and has taken a position at Wilson’s Kitchen in Liverpool.
The owner of the restaurant, Lloyd Wilson, said, “My wife saw the tweet and responded right away to say that Ben would be more than welcome to come to the café and help if he wants. Ben was excited to meet us and wanted to come down straight away. He came with his parents on Thursday and looked at home as soon as he walked in. He’s really outgoing and full of life.”
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He added, “It looks like he’s going to fit in perfectly. Ben’s going to start with a Saturday job so there’s no pressure on him. He said he really likes to bake, so we’re going to get him making some scones and get them on sale to see how he does and see if he enjoys it.”
Small’s father, Mike Small, told the Daily Mail more about Ben’s job at the family-owned café.
He said, “We took Ben to meet Lloyd on Thursday and the two of them got on like a house on fire – they were like the best of friends. It made me so comfortable to see them have a chat and a laugh, and it was nice to see Lloyd so relaxed and calm around Ben. It’s a family-run business, so it’s comforting to know that Ben is not only going to get the support of an employer but support in a family setting, too. We’ve got him some chef’s whites, so he’ll definitely look the part.”
Hodge concluded, “In these early stages it’s about him getting used to a greater level of stability and formality in workplace. It’s a Saturday job initially, but he’s hoping to do up to the 16 hours he’s permitted to work eventually. We’re going to build up to it. We don’t want to overwhelm Ben in his first week, but he might eventually want to find more work and be self-sufficient like anyone else.”