Evie Randall from Eastbourne, Wellington, is the 146th graduate of the Active in HELL (AIH) programme – an experience she says gave her a new sense of confidence and independence.
Launched in 2013 in partnership with IHC’s IDEA Services, AIH, offers young people with intellectual disabilities six weeks of paid training at a HELL store. By the end of 2020, more than 150 candidates will have been through the programme across the country.
19 year old Randall, said getting paid to train with HELL taught her a bunch of new skills, as well as allowing her to grow in confidence as part of a team, and enjoy some financial freedom.
“I liked that I got to learn new people skills and to learn to ask for help when I needed it,” said Randall. “It was a good experience and the people here are really nice. I also feel like I’ve gained quite a bit of independence in earning my own money.”
Having taught herself to play the drums during lockdown, Randall is planning on using her wages to pursue her interests.
“I’m putting my money towards either a drumkit, or building my own PC,” said Randall, who is currently studying a diploma in Information Technology at WelTec and hopes to find a job in which she can use her IT skills. Even if she doesn’t end up working in hospitality, she says she is grateful for the opportunity she has enjoyed with HELL.
“It’s been fun and I’ve learnt a lot,” said Randall.
At one point, Randall’s work experience at HELL Lower Hutt looked like it might hit a roadblock, with the country moving back to Covid Alert Level 3 in Auckland and Level 2 nationwide partway through her training. However, AIH national coordinator Krissy Gain says she was thrilled with the store’s response.
“I can’t commend HELL Pizza and the Lower Hutt team enough,” says Gain. “After liaising with head office and the store owner, they said: ‘our store is big enough that we’re able to socially distance; we have all of these practices in place because we’re a commercial kitchen, and if you guys are happy and confident to come in, as long as you’re feeling well, then please don’t let this disrupt your training’.”
Gain says she has enjoyed seeing Randall’s confidence grow.
“I think one of the most exciting things about this programme is the transformation of graduates. They’re well supported and have the opportunity to flourish and be themselves. The change in Evie’s confidence level since the beginning of the program is incredible.”
This is echoed by Colin Brady, one of the Lower Hutt duty managers who helped train Randall.
“She has completely come out of her shell. That is something I’ve noticed, very much so.”