In October 2020, Mecoco were delighted to welcome Niamh into the team of volunteers at their social enterprise. Offering disabled adults and young people work experience opportunities, Mecoco produces candles, wax melts and diffusers. As this is the busiest time of year for their social enterprise, Niamh was throwing herself in at the deep end for the run-up to the Christmas rush.

Since leaving school 18 months ago, Niamh has attended a day placement with a local service provider and has been involved in activities in her local community, but this all stopped when Covid-19 associated lockdowns and restrictions began in March. Something that both Niamh and her mum Veronica didn’t consider as an option was for Niamh to get a job. 

Niamh has a rare genetic disorder; she’s one of around 100 others with a HNRNPH2 genetic mutation. Her physical, medical and cognitive needs are all on the complex end of the scale. Work experience, placements or employment are near impossible to find for people with multiple and complex support needs. However, Mecoco is fighting this inequality and their inclusive non-profit business welcomes able-bodied and disabled people to work alongside each other.

Niamh’s mum, Veronica, said, “I wondered what Niamh could bring to Mecoco. Niamh might not bring the greatest amount of productivity to the workplace, but she does bring joy and if she could, cuddles! Niamh loves getting high fives and being rewarded for completing her tasks.”

Director at Mecoco, Jenny, speaks highly of Niamh’s contribution. “Niamh is doing valuable work. She has been labelling candles, filling our bottles of matches and bags of wax melts. We are learning each week what she enjoys and ways in which she can be involved. It has been lovely seeing her interact with other members of the team and getting obvious enjoyment from completing the tasks we give her.”

Mecoco currently welcomes 19 volunteers through their doors each week, including young people from local ASN schools for work experience. These individuals who have a whole range of disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy and rare genetic diagnoses are part of the team. Equipment and processes have been adapted to ensure that everyone can be included.

Jenny goes on to say: “We believe that everyone has something to offer. Whether it’s a gift or a skill, we all have a right to be part of a workplace, to have colleagues, learn new skills and do something meaningful if we choose to. We want to inspire other employers, professionals, families and disabled people that those with the highest support needs can contribute too.”

Something we can all agree on is the team over at Mecoco really are creating a fantastic and meaningful experience for people with disabilities that struggle to get involved in work related environments.