Whizz-Kidz runs work placements for young wheelchair users aged 14-25, to help them experience the workplace, learn more about a career and improve their employability. We work with dozens of partners all over the UK to provide a range of opportunities. Here, Simon shares his experience of a placement with National Express.
As I looked around Victoria Coach Station on the first day of my placement, I was a little intimidated. Seeing crowds of people rushing to get their coaches showed me just how large of an operation National Express was running from this coach station alone. But I shouldn’t have been worried. The team at National Express would support me all the way and Karl, another Whizz-Kidz Ambassador, would be there to keep me company.
We were whisked off to a Eurolines ticket office and told that we would be issuing tickets to customers. After a demonstration of the ticket system, we were ready to go. Karl and I were soon serving customers who wanted to go to Southampton, Reading or even Spain! One of us would talk to the customer to find out what they needed and use the computer mouse, while the other would operate the keyboard to make sure that we served customers. There’s nothing like good teamwork.
At one point during the day I had to serve a French family who spoke very little English. This meant having to say bonjour to the tiny bit of French I know and haven’t used in years. Eventually, I was able to issue them with their tickets successfully and it felt great that I was able to help them.
On the morning of the second day, we were given National Express orange jackets and asked to direct people to their coaches if they asked us. This was a great experience for me because I felt that people really took me seriously and I was able to relieve some customers’ stress.
In the afternoon, I had to get my face video-ready for an interview about National Express by Whizz-Kidz. I will always say that the camera adds 10 pounds!
The last day of the placement was a lot of fun. We took a coach ride to Heathrow and I was surprised to see just how accessible the National Express coaches are. There’s a proper wheelchair lift to get wheelchair users on board. We took a tour of Terminal 3 and I even got to see some planes fly off. I must admit, it did make me feel a bit jealous of the people going on holiday!
Everybody should go on the National Express work placement if they can. The team there is great and at the end of it I really felt like I had boosted my self-esteem and made a positive impact.
Want to go on a Whizz-Kidz Work Placement? Visit our Work Placements page.