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The People of ABLE

Helping the physically challenged return to society

“Every day that I have a job to go to, I am very happy”.

– Mdm Marie Toh

Marie Toh first suffered a stroke in December 2017. This was followed by a second stroke in April 2018. She felt very sad that she had to stop work and was lost about how she was going to cope.

She came to know about ABLE while recovering at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and subsequently enrolled into ABLE’s Return-to-Work (RTW) programme.

She had physiotherapy for her physical rehabilitation. In addition, Marie attended various programmes arranged by the Employment Support team, including WSQ training in Effective Workplace Communications, and a call centre work trial.

“I felt more positive and encouraged after attending the programmes”, Marie shared.

North West CDC Call Centre work trial collaboration

In September / October 2018 Marie took part in an in-house work trial to conduct a telephone survey on residents’ use of SkillsFuture Credits. This was a collaboration project with North West Community Development Council (NW CDC).

Marie’s easy phone manners belie her initial hesitation when she first started on the work trial.
Here she is seen seated in front of the computer in Agape Village, diligently looking through her assigned list of contacts. She adjusts her headsets and chirpily greets the caller “Hello, I’m calling on behalf of North West CDC…”.

Clients and family caregivers received training and were paired with ABLE staff who coached them in making calls and addressing queries. Through this work trial, clients honed their communication and administrative skills, which increased their employability and confidence to re-enter the workforce.

Despite having little experience in customer service and computer skills, she gamely attended a WSQ training course in Effective Workplace Communication and agreed to be trained as a call agent. After she mastered the work tasks, she looked forward to securing employment in the near future.

“From this job trial experience, I’ve learned to be more patient and not to give up even when faced with challenges”.

Marie’s journey back to work

When a job interview oppportunity at BreadTalk opened, Marie was excited and nervous at the same time. Marie revealed that this was in fact, her first formal job interview.

She was delighted when she was offered the position of Pastry Artist at BreadTalk at Nex. Her job is to decorate the pastries such as donuts, croissants, bread and pizza.

Despite her initial worries about coping, Marie says that her colleagues have been very helpful and kind, readily share feedback and tips for the pastry decorations.

Marie preparing garlic bread

ABLE’s Return-to-Work (RTW) programme

Training, job exploration, placement and support are key areas of work for Charlotte George, Senior Employment Support Specialist at ABLE.

She shares that one challenging task the team face is to convince employers to be inclusive of persons with physical challenges. Hence it gives her great satisfaction when employers, like BreadTalk are convinced and keen to give our clients an opportunity to return to work.

Charlotte with Marie during a job support visit

BreadTalk Area Operations Manager, Ju Yan says that initial concerns about how Marie would cope within the compact work space and during busy periods, were discussed and addressed during ABLE’s job support visits with Marie after she started on the job.

When you look at Marie, who do you see, we asked Ju Yan.

Her response was simply this – “I see someone who can contribute to society, as long as support and help are given”.

Marie and Area Operations Manager, Ju Yan decorating the pastries