When we first started talking to Virgin about ideas for the Breaking Barriers podcast series, we were really keen to do something special.

Our aim was to give people a genuine platform to share their own experiences of getting into work. We also wanted to cast a light on the reality of living with a barrier to employment.

We also hoped that we would have the opportunity to have employers learn from the podcast. What could they do differently in their own industries to make things more straightforward for people to follow their career path? How could they begin to dismantle the barriers?

We recorded six inspiring and thought provoking conversations for the series. We heard from Gabriel, a young man studying to become an urban planner. He explained the reality of living with a criminal conviction means being forced to disclose ‘the most shameful thing you’ve ever done’ on almost all job applications.

We heard from Aisling, a woman with cerebral palsy who talked about feeling like she should walk around with her CV attached to her forehead, so that people didn’t put her disability before her intellect and achievements. Nicky- an Aspiring actor with Aspergers syndrome talked about the changes the arts industry needs to make in order to authentically promote diversity. We heard from Jordan – a young black man- who talked about perceptions of race and gender in the UK and from Alison, a mum, about the fact that if you’ve got one barrier to employment, you may have several.

Teem was an asylum seeker who had taken part. He talked about how harrowing experiences in his birth country shaped his philosophy in life. We paired Teem with the fashion entrepreneur Ade Hassan because of his passion for retail. Once his application for asylum was granted, he was hungry to get a job in that world.

 

This week we received some incredible news

Teem has joined Ade Hassan’s organisation, Nubian Skin, as Operations Exec. In the words of Amy, their marketing coordinator, ‘we’re so glad you helped make this connection happen. We’ve broken the barriers!’

Not only did Teem get the chance to share his story with a business leader in his desired profession and his podcast audience – he made a profound connection and has now secured employment. Of course we can’t take credit for Teem getting the job, he did that with his own skill and expertise, but as programme makers, to be able to facilitate the conversations that have opened doors like this is such an extraordinarily brilliant outcome and makes us phenomenally proud.

Congratulations Teem! We look forward to hearing more about your continued success.