Let’s hear it for Asda – Billy thrives at store

A man who has been deaf since birth and struggled to find a job for eight years is now thriving in his role at an Asda store in Edinburgh – with some ­colleagues even learning sign language to ­support him.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 7:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 2:46 am
Billy Chan says his job has helped him ‘grow as a person’
Billy Chan says his job has helped him ‘grow as a person’

Billy Chan, 59, has now worked at the Chesser store for 11 months ­following his success at a recruitment day, which he was taken to by ­disability support group All In Edinburgh.

The group assisted with job applications and work visits to allow him to find out more about working within retail and sent along an interpreter to his interviews.

Mr Chan said: “It’s been difficult to find work with both my age and being deaf at the same time.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“The managers and supervisors have been very kind and patient with me in terms of my deafness, which I am thankful for. I’ve found all my co-workers to be very accommodating of my disability too.

“I was quite hesitant at starting my job as it had been quite a long time since I last worked and with my deafness providing a challenging effort to communicate with anyone. But I was ready to get back into work.”

Mr Chan’s job is to restock shelves with new products and he says that the company has helped him “grow as a person” and urged anyone with a disability to never give up trying.

He added: “My co-workers have been learning a few signs in sign language to communicate with me which is always nice as it is challenging – it can be hard to learn and to understand.”

Peter McAloon, deputy store ­manager, said: “No one had given Billy a chance and giving people a chance is what Asda is all about.

“Disability should not be seen as a barrier. A number of his colleagues have learned basic sign language so they can communicate with Billy. Some have learned enough so they can have a conversation with him. I think that is brilliant, I was quite shocked by it.

“Everyone is very protective of Billy and look out for him. He is a lovely guy and does such a good job.

“He has a very good manner with customers who approach him too. He takes them to another colleague or line manager, who explains that he is deaf. We have a lot of regulars in the store so they all know him.”

A spokesman for All In Edinburgh said: “Billy has a strong work ethic and just needed a good opportunity within the right team.

“His management and co-workers have been a great support and ­welcomed him into the team and that has encouraged him to get involved with the social aspect of the role.

“The communication with Asda has been great.

“If there is any additional support, Billy’s team have contacted All in Edinburgh directly to arrange new ways of working.”