Anna Dawson from Karori, Wellington, graduated from Active in HELL (AIH) in March and says the experience helped her to forget some of the stress in her life.
Active in HELL is a partnership between HELL Pizza and IHC New Zealand to get young people with intellectual disabilities into paid training in HELL stores around the country. Running since 2013, the initiative has seen 150 young Kiwis graduate with new-found skills and life experience.
Anna loved her experience with HELL Lower Hutt. It taught her more than just technical skills, while she showed the type of determination that any employer would love from their staff.
It took her more than an hour to get to work, a commute that included two buses and a walk, all during rush hour, but Anna says it was all worth it.
“I wanted to get out of the house to try something new, so it was worth the travel!
“There was lots of stress at home and I just wanted to get out of the house and focus on me, not the things that were bringing me down.”
Anna, a real people’s person, welcomed the chance to connect and interact with some different humans and says her training was “really fun and enjoyable”.
“It was nice to meet new people and I liked being around them working in the kitchen.”
Fraser Ryan, store manager at HELL Lower Hutt, says he also learned from the experience: “I thought it might be difficult, but Anna was really willing to learn and made everything run smoothly.
“After a few weeks, Anna would come in, ask what she needed to do, and just got on with it while making conversation. The effort of Anna was always 100% and she never said no to a challenge.
“We learnt that there are different ways of training for different people, and it has shown us that anyone can work in fast food as long as they put in the effort. I’d say Active in Hell taught both parties new things.”
Active in HELL program pays all their trainees and teaches them vital skills that can be used in further education or to gain employment.
It also gives trainees some vital intangibles, like confidence and the ability to learn a new routine, which can make a huge difference to the lives of these young people.
Rosie McRobie from Choices NZ, which forms part of the IHC Group and assists some AIH candidates, says: “When we first arrived, Anna was a bit nervous, but she took initiative and was able to do all of the tasks independently from the start.”
Anna is currently studying for a Living with Skills degree through WelTec, where she learns how to work in teams, as well as associated life skills. Thankfully, Active in HELL provided Anna with an advantage from the start, as she’d already learned much of that during her traineeship – and that’s what the AIH programme is all about!
Anna hopes for further opportunities in commercial kitchens, where she’s already displayed the focus, determination and adaptability to thrive.
Active in HELL overview
Active in HELL is an award-winning training initiative that supports young people with intellectual disabilities to undertake paid training in HELL Pizza kitchens.
The partnership between HELL and the IHC Group started back in 2013 and has since provided more than 150 people, mostly supported by Choices NZ and IDEA Services, the chance to gain key employment skills and vital independence to find permanent employment opportunities.
The paid training programme consists of 12 two-hour shifts, in which participants learn everything from food safety to how to create a devilishly good pizza.
Diversability Award at the New Zealand Diversity Awards. The Diversability Award is presented to businesses that use innovation to create employment opportunities for differently abled people, including those with physical and mental health conditions.