Deaf man from Dagenham celebrates job anniversary at Heathway Poundland store

Deaf employee Ridwan Ojetola

Deaf employee Ridwan Ojetola - Credit: Archant

Poundland is often seen as a good chance to grab a bargain –but it’s offered something even better to one young man.

Ridwan Ojetola, who has lived in the borough since 2001, is deaf, and feared his disability would harm his chances of finding a job.

Despite winning Student of the Year accolades at both Doncaster Communication Specialist College and Barking and Dagenham College, he struggled to find work after he left education.

“I found just staying at home difficult,” the 26-year-old said. “I needed to find a job to feel like I had achieved something.”

Then Ridwan was offered a lifeline through Clarion, a company that runs a government support programme to help deaf people into work.

They helped him to apply for a job at Poundland – and now Ridwan is celebrating a year of employment at the Dagenham Heathway store.

Being offered the job was a watershed moment for the driven young man: “I felt relieved because I really wanted to work and needed the challenge.”

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Ridwan lives in Millard Terrace just minutes from the shop, and says his first year there has gone quickly: “I’m very happy here. I feel more independent now I have my job. Life is good.”

He works in the warehouse and restocks shelves, which he says keeps him fit and strong, but other deaf people at Poundland have jobs working on the shopfloor and manning the tills.

In fact, Ridwan is the 49th deaf person that Clarion have helped to get a job with Poundland, making it one of the biggest employers of deaf people in the country.

“There’s no reason why a deaf person shouldn’t become a manager at Poundland,” Ridwan said. “I hope to see that one day.”

“Deaf people can get jobs and have a future. Everyone should be equal and I am proud of myself.”