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I was born with cerebral palsy, which is a neurological condition affecting motor skills in my arms and legs. I walk on crutches and although sometimes I may have to take alternative routes to achieve a goal, I’ve come to see my disability as a positive thing because it’s given me more determination and drive to prove myself.

Before the pandemic, I was volunteering for Essex Library Service as an IT Trainer. Due to Covid I wasn’t able to carry on with this role, but I still had skills to offer, and a passion to help others. So I began to search for another job where I could use my skills and experience. I got in touch with a local careers adviser who recommended I take a look at Co-op’s Member Pioneer role.

An accessible interview and induction

I was invited to my first interview via a video call. This helped me massively as I was incredibly nervous, but being in the comfort of my own home made me feel more at ease on camera.

During the interview I felt comfortable discussing my disability and I talked to the MPC (Member Pioneer Coordinator) conducting the interview about how it affects my day-to-day life. I was worried that this may impact my chances of getting the job, but their response put my mind at rest…

“We will accommodate your needs in any way we can... I’m considering you for the role for the skills you have, regardless of your disability… there is always a way”

Shortly after my second interview, I was offered the role of Member Pioneer in North Weald and Epping. At first I was nervous about whether I was going to be able to do a good job. I wondered if I had what it takes and if people would take me seriously or not. But my MPC kept reassuring me that I was doing exactly what they expected of me, and that if I had any questions (no matter how big or small) he was always at the other end of the phone.

Being a Member Pioneer

As time went on, I made connections with the local causes in my community as well as other Co-op colleagues, and I really began to feel part of the team. It was such a refreshing and uplifting feeling to be given the chance to show my worth in a paid role. 

In September 2021 a huge Member Pioneer conference was held in London, and I met many of my colleagues for the first time in person. Being surrounded by so many like-minded people with a passion to change things for the better made me feel at home, and I realised I was part of something much bigger.

From that point on my confidence has grown and I continue to make connections with my team and people in the communities I support. Becoming a Member Pioneer has changed my life, and I’d recommend Co-op as a great place to work for anyone who refuses to let their disability hold them back.

Mark Dorrington,
Member Pioneer