How many people say they enjoy work so much they rock up early and get cracking?
22-year-old Ryan is the latest trainee through Active in HELL’s doors and thrived at HELL Pizza’s Cuba Street store in Wellington.
“He was originally meant to work from 1pm-3pm, but Ryan loved it so much he ended up doing three-hour shifts instead of two,” explains his Community Connections employment consultant Lars-Erik Brown. “He’s very keen and motivated to work.”
Active in HELL is a partnership between HELL Pizza and the IHC Group to get young people with intellectual disabilities into paid training in HELL stores around the country. Running since 2013, the initiative has seen more than 150 young Kiwis graduate with new-found skills and life experience.
Before starting his training, Ryan was employed by New World Khandallah but left to pursue new challenges. He certainly found what he was looking for at HELL!
“I was a bit nervous when I started, because I’d never done anything like this before,” says Ryan. “I feel more confident now and I really enjoyed it.”
During his shifts, Ryan was given tasks such as making cream cheese cubes and stretching pizza dough – something Ryan took very seriously.
“I saw a much greater focus from Ryan when he was at work than I have before, plus he was genuinely happy there,” adds Lars.
Lars wanted to get Ryan into the Active in HELL program as a means to give him a fresh start after his time with New World ended, to build his motivation and to get him back on his feet. It worked.
“It’s a new future for me,” agrees Ryan. “I think it’ll help me find a new job.”
Lars is equally pleased with the experience.
“I looked at the program and thought it was NZ-leading. I couldn’t find anything else that compared, and Ryan has made a success of it. Everyone at HELL has been great to deal with, so it’s been such a positive experience. They’ve been so supportive of Ryan and so welcoming.”
HELL Cuba St team member Helen McNab, who played an instrumental role in training Ryan, says he really impressed her.
“He was very detail-oriented and super focused on his tasks, which is what we want and it makes things so easy for us. He was really cool to work with!
“We didn’t need to show him how to do anything more than once. I think he would be a really good kitchen hand for prep work, something where you need to focus.”
Helen was in charge of training Ryan, but he wasn’t the only one learning.
“He taught me to communicate and express myself differently. He taught me patience and a few different techniques. I really enjoyed my experience with Ryan and I’d love to do another Active in HELL.”
Active in HELL overview
Active in HELL is an award-winning training initiative that supports young people with intellectual disabilities to undertake paid training in HELL Pizza kitchens.
The partnership between HELL and the IHC Group started back in 2013 and has since provided more than 150 people, mostly supported by Choices NZ and IDEA Services, the chance to gain key employment skills and vital independence to find permanent employment opportunities.
The paid training programme consists of 12 two-hour shifts, in which participants learn everything from food safety to how to create a devilishly good pizza.
In 2016, Active in HELL won the Diversability Award at the New Zealand Diversity Awards. The Diversability Award is presented to businesses that use innovation to create employment opportunities for differently abled people, including those with physical and mental health conditions.