March is Intellectual Disability Awareness Month

This month we are going to introduce you to our staff and share our vision of an inclusive work space where people with varying abilities and from different backgrounds can work together.

Meet Erin. When Erin first joined Merrypak, she worked in our handwork section. We knew she was capable of much more but she lacked the confidence to try something new. Eventually we pushed her to push herself and she spent some time working in our shop and then moved on to filing for our sales office. Now she works in our Barcoding Department where she works unsupervised preparing and printing our shelf talkers and barcodes – a task that requires attention to detail and speed.

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Meet Sam. Sam came to us through Alexandra Hospital and started in our handwork section. Her supervisor saw that she could do more than packing and let her try out in our Assembly Department. Every Merrypak carrier bag is made by hand by our Assembly team. Sam now works alongside our experienced ladies making carrier bags.

Peter is one of the fastest and neatest workers in our handwork section. He is non-verbal but he can follow detailed instructions. While Peter was at Vera School for Learners with Autism, he came to our factory for work experience. After he finished school, he came to work full time at Merrypak. Many of the items you see in our shop are packed and labeled in our handwork section by our enthusiastic team.

Mogammad-Amien joined us a while back in our handwork section. He is so energetic and enthusiastic that we thought he would be perfect in our shop, packing at the tills and running errands. You almost never see this young man without a smile on his face. Mogammad hasn’t looked back and is now an integral part of our Merrypak retail team.

Adam was placed with us by Work4You South Africa. At Work4you, young people with intellectual disabilities are prepared for the open labour market. Adam works in our machine room where he does the task of ‘breaking out’. This is the hand work that follows the die cutting of our box range.

This is Greg. Regular visitors to our shop will have had the privilege of being served by this polite, knowledgeable young man. Greg is part of our merchandising team who keep our shelves stocked. His section is the paper carrier bags – our signature product. With Greg, we know they are in the best possible hands.

Meet Joanna. Joanna works in our hand work section. She was placed with us by Work4You South Africa who prepare young people with intellectual disabilities for the open job market and provide ongoing support. Joanna quietly gets on with her work and always has a smile for everyone.

Let me introduce you to Carrie. It is thanks to Carrie that we have opened up our doors (and our hearts) to so many young people with varying degrees of intellectual disability. Thanks must also go to Carrie’s parents especially her mom, Vivien for entrusting her to us. Our staff welcomed Carrie with open arms and treated her like their own. She taught us that an inclusive work space is ‘doable’.

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