With a few well-practised movements, Klaus Rank removes the net cover that protects room plants during their journey to the DIY store. His eyes sweep across the shelves and sales area. He refills the displays when necessary and makes sure that the products are well-presented. He keeps his cool even amid the hustle and bustle that surround him in the toom Baumarkt DIY store in Bamberg, Germany. You would never know that the 51-year-old in the red uniform had a learning disability. He greets customers and colleagues with an impish grin. Thanks to his unreserved, helpful nature, he is really well-liked by his colleagues.
Rank supports the team at the toom Baumarkt DIY store in Bamberg about 20 hours each week. He enjoys his job, has become a regular member of his team, and is liked by everyone. The feeling of belonging is not something that Rank can take for granted – to obtain it, he had to complete a journey that was long and, occasionally, bumpy. Although he had gained some crafts experience over the years, Rank was never really accepted in his work life. But that changed with the help of an organisation called integra MENSCH. A programme sponsored by the subsection of Lebenshilfe Bamberg enables people with disabilities who have jobs at the group’s internal workshop to fill positions at companies and government authorities. Employees receive intensive support – particularly during the orientation phase – from integration counsellors at Lebenshilfe. With this support, Rank was able to find his dream job at the toom Baumarkt DIY store.
“Klaus happily and enthusiastically does his job. He is an energetic worker who adds a special dimension to our team. This successful working relationship was produced by careful orientation training and sensitisation of colleagues. The professional support of Lebenshilfe helped us in this process.”
The Bamberg approach is paying off: Today, 141 people with disabilities are being assisted with community-supported jobs by the integration staff members of integra MENSCH – this amounts to more than 20 per cent of employees of the workshop for the disabled operated by Lebenshilfe Bamberg. toom is the first DIY store in Germany to take part in the comprehensive inclusion programme. In addition to Rank, toom Baumarkt DIY stores support 14 other employees of workshops for the disabled across Germany. In this type of job, the employees with disabilities retain their status as members of workshops for the disabled but can actively perform a job and become a member of a team with able-bodied colleagues. An experienced colleague serves as a mentor for the new employee on the job. This enables relationships with colleagues to be formed and inhibitions and reservations to be reduced. The team will thus grow closer together, creating the basis for social interaction and active diversity.