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Alije grew up in Serbia and arrived in the UK in 2013 and worked in several warehouses in various temporary roles until she was offered a part-time cleaning position at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in June 2014. Alije was then offered an administration position as an Events Assistant, dealing with customer bookings and enquiries, which she enjoyed and really excelled at. Sadly, due to the Covid-19 economic challenges for Alije’s employer, she was made redundant in August 2020. Alije then registered with Zebra Access in Sep tember 2020 on the Black Country Futures (BCF) project for employability support with Bob Marsh, Employment and Business Development Manager. All support was provided remotely via Zoom due to the Covid-19 pandemic as all offices and meeting venues were closed during the national Lockdown.

Alije at her NHS desk       

We supported Alije to modify her CV reducing it from 4 pages to the customary 2 pages and commenced creating her Action Plan. During discussions on Alije’s aspirations, she said that she was happy to consider alternative employment but we quickly established that her previous work with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre was useful transferrable skills more suited to administration roles. We looked at NHS jobs and registered Alije for notification of NHS vacancies and also assisted with a personal statement that could be utilised to apply for NHS vacancies as they arise. We supported Alije with an application for a Document Administrator role with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and she was subsequently offered an interview. We went through some role-play interview practice before her interview to ensure that Alije was well prepared. Alije did so well at her interview as she was offered the job just over a week later and she was absolutely delighted, and so were we! 

Alije with her manager, Taylor   

Alije said “Zebra Access were very helpful and assisted me a lot to find a job quickly and during COVID-19. I thought it would be impossible after 4 months but I found a job with NHS! Massive thanks to Bob Marsh who provided me with really amazing support with CV, Cover Letter and advised me what to do when I start with my interview. I am very happy in my new job and working with fantastic colleagues who are very understanding and supportive! I have also recently recommended one of my friends to register with Zebra Access too”                                             

Alije’s Line Manager, Taylor Jenkins, Records Department Manager commented “There are not enough words (or signs!) to describe how excited Maria Kane, Head of Care Records & Clinical Coding, and I were when we first met Alije at her interview over Microsoft Teams in January 2021. The interview went smoothly with the aid of an interpreter and Alije’s skills and personal drive to excel shined through, and she was exactly what we needed in our team! Thanks to our wonderful Occupational Health and Deaf Services Teams at BSMHFT we were able to put in place the necessary measures in order to make Alije’s work environment more comfortable. This included installing a hearing loop & visual alarms in our office, obtaining visors for our staff to wear (until a clear mask can be authorized for use), and enrolling 17 of our team/reception staff members into a BSL Level 1 course. We continue to look at more ways we can support Alije and, with her help, raise wider Deaf Awareness across our Trust.

Alije has settled into our team and performs the job role extremely well. Her keen eye for detail and willingness to learn and ask questions has made her an important asset to our team. She has been the piece of the puzzle we didn’t know we needed! In the few months that I have gotten to know her and see her work ethic and personality shine, I am immensely proud of how far she has come, both as her manager and now as her friend. She has so much potential and I can’t wait to see where it takes her!”

Even Alije’s colleagues wanted to chip in with some glowing comments too!

“Alije is a pleasure to work with, she has a cheerful and friendly personality. She is hardworking and is always ready to assist any member of the team when required. Deaf awareness is important to her and she promotes this whenever she can. She has helped to educate and encourage us to embrace BSL and is always available for us to practise with her. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her” - Linda

“Working with Alije is great. She is very smart, funny and a great addition to our team!” – Shema

“Working with Alije is a pleasure she is the loveliest person, always happy and always willing to help. I am grateful to have Alije as part of the team she is so supportive and is always helping us with our BSL course which has made communication so easy and I feel really grateful to have been given the opportunity to learn BSL and that Alije is so kind and willing to help us learn” - Morgan

Employment and Business Development Manager, Bob Marsh who supported Alije every step of the way commented “It has been a real pleasure to support Alije but, truly, she has shown a lot of independence and I highly commend her for that. From the first day Alije registered with Zebra Access on the Black Country Futures (BCF) project, she was very proactive and determined to overcome losing her previous job due to the Covid-19 challenges, so it is not surprising she is now in her dream job and enjoying it immensely, she deserves every success and I wish her well for a great future” 

Lastly, from Chris Beech, Project Development Manager for Zebra Access, commented “Yet another fantastic outcome for the BCF (Black Country Futures) project, funded by the National Lottery, and Alije. This project is proving invaluable to Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing people like Alije who are now competing with millions of other people for jobs, in a market that is increasingly competitive during these unprecedented times, on an equal platform because of the service offered by Zebra Access. Bob has continuously provided an excellent specialised and holistic employment support to enable Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing people access information, training, opportunities and mentors in their preferred language throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as the restrictions eases. Alije’s testimonial highlights the quality and standard of support offered by Bob and Zebra Access team.

To date, we have supported 14 Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing people into jobs and furthering their education which we are naturally delighted about. We will continue to develop this project further to maintain and enhance Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing people’s employment opportunities”




Zebra Access CIO provides services and support to Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing people with thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund. Services includes Employment Services, English/Maths tutorials, Advocacy, Community Development, BSL/Deaf Awareness, drop-in sessions dealing with a range of queries, complaints, form filling, and many more. Zebra Access staff and volunteers have the right to work in a safe and abuse free environment. The organisation will not tolerate any kind of abuse against its staff, volunteers or property.

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