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Watch Ellen's full video story below.

Pleasant surprises

Hello. My name’s Ellen, and I’m part of the team at Rayleigh Road Coop in Hutton. I’m Deaf, and I wear two hearing aids at work. When I first joined Co-op, I was surprised at the level of support I received from my team. My colleagues always ask if I need anything, and even when I was applying for the job, I was asked for type and level of support that I required. When I first started, one my colleagues actually asked if I needed anything specific to help me with my job, which I really appreciated. I was over the moon when I was offered the role.  

Little things make a big difference 

Due to my disability, I often struggle with low confidence. However, my colleagues and manager have been fantastic, and the company is really supportive. Co-op uses special hearing equipment (sometimes called a hearing loop, T loop, or audio induction loop) for people with hearing disabilities, and it’s really helped me with my work. The equipment cuts out unwanted background noise and sends sound directly to my hearing aids. This makes communication much easier for me, and it makes my tasks more manageable too, especially when it’s busy or loud in-store.  

Stronger together 

Because of everything going on with Covid-19, another thing I’ve experienced difficulty with is understanding customers. Most of the time, customers wear masks, so I can’t make out what they’re saying by lip reading. And sometimes people ask a question when I’m not looking at them. My colleagues understand that facing me while they’re talking helps me understand what they’re saying, and they’re really patient with customers who might be less aware. It’s great to see people making an effort.  

Proud to be part of Co-op 

I hope my story inspires others in my position, and that sharing my experiences helps improve Deaf Awareness in communities across the UK. Thank you to Co-op for reaching out to me. And thank you to everyone reading or watching my story. I’m so proud to be a part of the Co-op team.  

Ellen Houghton,

Customer Team Member