Active in HELL is a partnership between HELL Pizza and the IHC Group 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.
Quinn Wallace graduated from HELL Mana earlier this year and says the experience changed him for the better. His traineeship didn’t just improve his confidence – for Quinn, it ran a lot deeper.
“It was the most special thing for me,” he explained. “For a few years, I was chronically depressed. I didn’t do anything or have the motivation to do anything. The experience really boosted my motivation and confidence to work hard and get out there.”
Quinn’s coordinator Nathan Bond from CSS Disability Action, which supports IHC within the Active in HELL program, agreed: “His enthusiasm, self-esteem and motivation definitely improved. He was able to advocate for himself and wanted to do more to keep going with work, because he enjoyed the Active in HELL experience so much."
The opportunity to experience what some people take for granted has meant the world to Quinn. His traineeship provided a routine, responsibility, new skills and a new purpose in life. He also enjoyed the company of his co-workers.
“It builds that strong work ethic in you – getting up and going to work,” he said. “I really looked forward to my shifts and enjoyed the job, because I’d never had that before.”
During his six weeks, Quinn learned about food hygiene practices and other work procedures, cut vegetables, made desserts, and filled sauce bottles.
“When I work, I’m silent because I’ve got to focus on the task. I can’t do two things at once, I don’t let anything distract me.”
Alakh Dave, store manager at HELL Mana, said: “It’s really amazing to see how his mind is set to get things done as quickly as possible. We were all impressed by his efficiency and also his punctuality.
“He took the training very seriously. He just had to be shown how to do things once and then he would get onto it and keep it in mind for the next time.”
When Quinn was younger, he wanted to be a lot of things – a journalist, a conservationist, a darts player. Before his traineeship, those things seemed out of reach.
“HELL helped me see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I know I can work now. It’s set me up well in ways I didn’t have before.”
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.
In 2016, Active in HELL won the 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.