A Surrey Choices customer with support needs has spoken about the confidence boost that her job at Sainsbury’s Burpham has given her after receiving a ‘25 Years Service’ award.

Joanne Edgington secured her job through Surrey Choices EmployAbility service, gaining hands on experience and attaining a range of new skills within months of her successful application, from bag packing through to customer service.

Prior to her placement, Joanne lacked confidence in her abilities, but with support from EmployAbility and Sainsbury’s, she became more able to work independently. Following a successful interview back in 1992, Joanne was offered paid part-time employment and hasn’t looked back since.

Joanne commented: “I was very shy when I began the job, but the role has given me heaps of confidence and I’ve learned how to be friendly to customers and help them.

“I was very excited when I got the letter telling me I had won a prize for my service. I couldn’t believe it at first but then I felt very happy.”

Surrey Choices Employment and Communities Manager, Nicky Harding, said: “Joanne’s commitment to her role at Sainsbury’s has been incredible and we’re delighted that her achievements have been recognised.

“Joanne’s confidence has come on heaps and bounds over the years and it’s fantastic to have witnessed the progress that she’s made. We wish her all the luck in the world for the next 25 years!”

In recognition for her achievement, Joanne was presented with an iPad and is attending a celebratory event at the Lancaster Hotel in London in September.

Joanne attends Surrey Choices Lockwood Activity Centre in Guildford and takes part in a number of classes, including jewellery making, textiles and puppetry, as well as attending Cranleigh RDA to feed and groom the horses.

Surrey Choices EmployAbility service is a dedicated service that helps to find work placements, training, volunteer opportunities and paid work for individuals with autism or learning, physical and sensory disabilities.