Permanent employment at HELL pizza has unlocked a new world of opportunity for two young adults — Special Olympics gold-medallist Janiece Pollock and aspiring chef Trevor Oakley.
Janiece, 25, from Wellington, and Trevor, 22, from Kapiti, are demonstrating that having an intellectual disability doesn’t prevent success at HELL.
They are two of 140 youths who have come through the Active in HELL (AIH) programme since its inception in 2013. The initiative, run by HELL with the help of IHC’s IDEA Services, helps young people with intellectual disabilities enhance their job prospects by undertaking paid training at its stores over a six-week period.
Janiece and Trevor both showcased enthusiasm, capability and responsibility during their training, leading to permanent employment at the respective stores they trained at – HELL Upper Hutt and HELL Kapiti. Both are now enjoying their newfound independence.
HELL chief executive Ben Cumming says their stories epitomise why Active in HELL was started.
“We’re very proud of Janiece and Trevor, and of the inclusive culture promoted by our HELL franchisees,” said Cumming.
“We created Active in HELL to provide participants a real taste of a work environment, and to act as a stepping stone for future employment opportunities. Our hope is always that trainees leave with greater confidence and useful skills that will help them find permanent employment.”
From good to great
Trevor joined the programme in 2018 and now works two two-hour shifts every week.
The experience of his training and permanent employment has benefited him across many aspects of his life. He has been able to move out of his dad’s house to share with a flatmate who also completed Active in HELL training. It has also increased his social confidence.
“My co-workers are great to work with, and I’ve learnt how to communicate better with people and how to handle new responsibilities,” said Trevor.
Store owner Ivan Shi says Trevor — who has ambitions of becoming a chef — took to it naturally and was quick to master the basics.
“We’re all very proud of Trevor,” Shi said. “One of the first jobs he was given was making the pizza bases. He worked hard at it and is now faster than nearly every new employee that comes to work for us!”
Good as gold
In Upper Hutt, Janiece, who also joined the programme two years ago and works a two-hour weekly shift, has also been enjoying success in the kitchen and in her life outside of work.
For ten years, she has been part of the Special Olympics, scratching her competitive itch and working hard to be the best athlete on the track.
At the 2019 Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, she brought home two gold medals for long jump and the 100m sprint respectively, dedicating both to a dear friend who had recently passed.
Looking to continue the winning momentum back in NZ, she now has her sights set on achieving other goals she’s had for some time.
“I’m really keen to find a flat and experience living away from home for the first time,” she said. “I’ve also been wanting to get my restricted licence for a while, so I’m saving for a defensive driving course to speed up the process.”
Equipped with a health and food safety qualification as part of her Active in HELL training, Janiece’s experience and skills developed at HELL helped her land additional work at McDonald’s in Porirua.
“I used to be very shy, but Active in HELL has given me the confidence to take on more responsibilities,” said Janiece. “I enjoy coming to work, talking with my workmates, and staying busy.”
“I’d like to thank HELL for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. I would encourage others to give it a go, because I know they will enjoy it like I have.”
Active in HELL national coordinator Krissy Gain says Active in HELL stands out through its scale and commitment to paying every participant.
“The fact that HELL pays each trainee is outstanding in terms of fostering the individuals’ sense of independence, and I believe that HELL is the only company in New Zealand to offer an opportunity like this on such a scale.
“It’s also incredible to see the positive affects the training has. In addition to the workplace skills they develop, participants gain greater confidence, purpose and independence. I really can’t speak highly enough about this programme and it’s fantastic to have such a pioneering employer like HELL on board.”