How to become a kitchen assistant: John-Jo's story

Meet John-Jo, 21, who works as a kitchen assistant in a care home in London. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"It can be hard for people to find their niche."

John-Jo didn't know what he wanted to do and found work through Mencap, a charity that provides support and opportunities for people with learning disabilities. His school let him know about the charity.

He was initially on a Supported Internship programme, working with a Job Coach Coordinator, who supported him and helped find him employers. Mencap came up with strategies to make the tasks make sense to John-Jo, because he works hard, but sometimes needs help remembering things.

John-Jo had catering experience, and wanted to work in a care environment, so focused on that. He has now graduated from his internship and did so well with the support of his job coach that he was given a paid contract, working as a kitchen assistant in the care home, where he did his internship.

John-Jo working in the kitchen.

What is your job?

I bring around the trollies, make salads, make sandwiches and talk to the residents in the care home. You support the people around you, and you help people out around you.

What did you study at school?

I did Carpentry, Sports, Maths and English. During my internship, we did Maths and English with Mencap, one-to-one, every week. It was good.

What skills do you use in your work?

I use my motor skills (movement) and try not to cut my fingers! I also use communication skills and need to work well in a team, working with the team in the kitchen, but also the wider team in the home.

Was it a smooth ride?

My other placements weren’t as good as this – they didn’t give me much to focus my brain. It can be hard for people to find their niche. I'm happy that I found this job.

Top tips

  • Think ahead about what you want to do
  • Think about the little things to focus your mind.

What to expect if you want support from Mencap's employment services

The support John-Jo's has had from Mencap's employment services is available for young people with a learning disability looking for support.

Mencap believes being employed is about more than earning money. It’s about:

  • feeling valued
  • being independent
  • getting fulfillment.

Mencap’s employment services support people with a learning disability to develop the skills and confidence needed to get a job. They offer three programmes, referred to as Mencap's Three Ships, which help to achieve this goal through supported internships, traineeships and apprenticeships.

This information is a guide (source: Mencap employment services)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Tom: restaurant owner
Dan: kitchenware maker
Bethany: carer