Belfast Works LEMIS+ client John Gourley from Rathcoole talks about his success with the Henderson's work placement scheme. 
Until the end of last year, 28 year old John Gourley from Rathcoole had been struggling to find employment. After signing up for the Belfast Works LEMIS+ Project and taking part in the Henderson Group, placement, he’s now working full time for the company, and is considered a success story by everyone involved in the employment initiative. 
 
John said: “I left school when I was 15 to get a job because I knew that I wanted to do hands on work - I just couldn’t do sitting behind a desk. I started off working in small warehouses and I really enjoyed it. Then as time went by I started to find that all the jobs advertised wanted people with licenses to operate the forklifts etc, so even though I was able to do it all, I wasn’t eligible.” 
 
John found employment for a while as a cleaner, but then spent a year looking for warehousing work with no success. 
 
“It was terrible because I had lots of experience, but without a forklift license employers won’t even look at you. Then my friend recommended the LEMIS+ Project at the Ashton Centre in North Belfast. He said that they help you with qualifications so I went and registered. Then my mentor Claire signed me up for the courses I’d need to do.” 
 
The Belfast Works LEMIS+ Project’s Warehouse Employability Academy offers accredited forklift training, manual handling and health and safety qualifications followed by the opportunity to take part in the two week work placement at Henderson Group facilitated by Business in the Community. 
John said: “I loved the training. I knew how to do it all anyway, but I needed that piece of paper to prove it. All the employers want the licenses now – the LEMIS+ Project was like getting the door opened for you. 
Henderson's Warehouse Manager Geordie Irwin with John Gourley (right). 
 
“When I started the two week placement at Henderson’s I was just happy to be in. I was blown away by the size of the place as I’d only worked in small warehouses before, but just wanted to get my head down and get on with it. After the two weeks they said I could go on through and sign up as an agency worker. I was delighted.” 
 
John’s manager Geordie Irwin said: “I knew from the moment John started he would be a good worker. He hit the ground running and everything was ‘yes, no problem’. 
 
“The two week training placement we offer for the LEMIS+ clients has turned out very worthwhile for us. Obviously it doesn’t suit everybody, but what we would say to anyone who might be interested is that we give 100 per cent training. All we ask for is willingness and if someone wants to do it, they’ll be able to do it. It’s all about attitude, really.” 
 
“I’ve been working here for 15 years. I started off as a picker, and worked my way up. I love it because every day is different. The job keeps you active and you’re never bored.” 
 
The Henderson Group are planning to offer further two week placements for unemployed Belfast Works LEMIS+ clients – call 9075 1934 or visit our contact page for more details and to register. 
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