From education to employment

Lifetime Achievement award winner Bob Marsh is an inspiration

Bob Marsh, Business Development Manager, Clarion UK

Bob Marsh leads our Employment Service, a specialist service led by and in partnership with Deaf* People. Bob was keen to come and work for us in 2002 as he shares our values of learning, development and excellent customer service.

Most importantly we are a proud organisation that wins awards – we foster pride and a loud sense of voice and praise for the people we work with and the barriers they knock down. Making sure that the playing field is level is a big deal for him and for us.

We are a rapidly growing SME and provide a range of services across the UK for Deaf, hard of hearing and disabled people including:

  • Language Services to Deaf People including: BSL Interpreters
  • Learning Services to Deaf and disabled students including, notetakers, practical support workers, Mental Health and Dyslexia Tutors
  • Digital Services: A British Sign Language App and Remote Interpreting
  • Employment Services to Deaf people including Communication and Employment Consultants and Deaf Awareness Training.

Statistics show that there are 3.7 million people of working age that have a hearing loss, 135,000 of these are severely or profoundly deaf. This specific client group are four-times more likely to be unemployed but this does not deter Bob from ensuring that everyone gets an equal service and a better chance at gaining a job.

Back in 2002, none of the other traditional service providers such as Action on Hearing Loss or Dering Employment Services could provide a model of support for Deaf and hard of hearing people that worked though the recession and out of the other side.

In response to clients asking us to develop a service, Bob created the role Communication and Employment Consultant – someone with both signing and employment support skills. This is now a role that has been extended to working with Deaf people with additional, complex or significant needs through Doncaster Deaf Trust.

I was pleased, in 2002 to champion Bob Marsh to lead our UK wide service.  He now runs a team of 150 skilled and experienced Communication and Employment Consultants (CEC) who have both excellent British Sign Language skills and also employment skills. They work with Deaf people on a 1:1 basis helping them find, win and keep work. People like Ridwan.

Case study: Ridwan Ojetola

RIDWAN 400x600












Our CEC, Brigit, engaged with Ridwan  to  update and fine-tune his CV, learn about  skills and aspirations then started the all-important job searching activities.

Ridwan’s motivation and dedication to the programme plus his enthusiasm and attitude to gaining employment led to the swift success of an interview at Poundland in Southend-on-Sea in Essex where he was subsequently successful in being offered a position with this national retail chain!

Brigit and Ridwan also worked closely, with one of our key partners, in this case, Doncaster Deaf Trust, who have the reach, experience and capacity to support our small, flourishing service.    

Ridwan fitted in to his new environment almost immediately, becoming a highly valued addition to the team.  Ridwan is also encouraging Lisa and staff there to learning BSL. 

Ridwan’s Dad, Gaphar commented on behalf of the family:

“After Ridwan completed College and training opportunities we were aware of the challenges he faced on the employment market due to the competitiveness and his hearing difficulties. We met with Bob from Clarion, who is Deaf himself, and he explained about the new SES programme and then we requested that the Jobcentre referred Ridwan. Our immeasurable thanks go to Bob and his team, we are sure that more Deaf people will gain valuable benefits from their services, as Ridwan certainly did.”

Profoundly Deaf since birth, Bob started his career as a cabinet maker, but when early onset arthritis put a stop to his dexterity and curtailed his practical skills he found himself unemployed for the first time in his life.

Through personal experience, he realised how hard it was for Deaf people to access mainstream employment services and that the opportunities available to Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH) job seekers were not equal to that of hearing counterparts – access to training courses, communication support at interviews etc.

Determined to make changes and ensure that his fellow-Deaf peers had equal access to mainstream employability services, Bob commenced a career as an Employment Advisor for Deaf people, finding the perfect niche to make a difference.

Originally starting in East of England, Bob, using his own unique experience, single-handedly supported 50 Deaf people into employment. Bob embraced his new-found career to raise awareness of the skills that Deaf people can offer in the work-place, and promoting that there should be no barrier to Deaf people doing an equally good job, to their employers.

Bob’s name has become synonymous within the Welfare to Work industry, working for 3 major organisations, providing services for Deaf people, both in the private and charitable sectors.

His core values have always remained that Deaf people should experience no barriers in their personal or working lives. Currently managing his team across the UK, despite this huge remit, Bob always ensures that he keeps in regular contact with staff delivering services, giving invaluable advice and support, going above and beyond his role, Bob insists on meeting with clients himself to deliver his own customised and tailored services where needed. He is unique in that he has a natural aptitude for empathy and his eye for detail ensures the best quality of service for the customers.

Bob’s chosen career path quickly became his vocation as he worked tirelessly to ensure an equal playing field for Deaf jobseekers, travelling more than 5000 miles per month to visit Primes to nationally market and promote his innovative provision to aid Deaf job-seekers to seek, gain and sustain employment. Promoting his customers to employers and selling their skills.

His hard work and commitment paid off when Clarion were awarded ERSA’s Supply Chain Partner of the Year Award in 2013.

Bob worked tirelessly to ensure that all providers had this service made available to their Deaf customers and within a short space of time the number of support sessions soared to more than 260 per month and became recognised as the UK’s largest provision for Deaf and HOH people.

Each of the 150+ staff were personally interviewed by Bob himself as he wanted to provide an excellent provision to his fellow-Deaf customers. To achieve this, it was imperative that the candidates’ competence and knowledge was of the highest standard and as a Deaf man, he was best placed to assess each of them.

In all his past roles Bob has always held himself up as a role-model for Deaf people to motivate & encourage them to succeed in life and become self-supporting, moving away from benefits and lifestyle into independence. Showing customers how much healthier and rewarding their lives can become, making a huge difference not only to them but impacting on the lives of hundreds more family and friends.

Sadly, in recent years Bob has experienced debilitating health issues himself including arthritis, diabetes and Lupus. However, despite the challenges, they have not deterred him from continuing his vision. In his time working within the W2W, Bob has helped to move over 500 Deaf and HOH people into sustainable employment and off benefits.

He has inspired many of his hearing colleagues to learn sign language, who all refer to him as an inspiration, a leading light and a Champion for the UK’s Deaf community.

Teresa Scott 100x100In support of his award, Teresa Scott OBE, Founder/CEO Kennedy Scott Ltd said:

Bob is truly an inspiration and leads very much from the front at Clarion. We have partnered with Clarion for a number of years and Bob has been instrumental in providing an exceptional service to some of our own SES customers. He always goes that extra mile and has built an exemplary national service which provides Primes with the reassurance that the quality of support and service provided will be the same wherever our Deaf or HOH customers are in the country. Kennedy Scott could not do such a good job for these customers without the service and leadership from Bob. I think he wholeheartedly deserves to be recognised for a Lifetime achievement award.”

Bob, on winning the award said:

“I was completely blown away when my name was announced as the Lifetime Achievement award winner at the annual ERSA Employability Awards ceremony in London. Developing a nationally recognised specialist employment support provision for Clarion UK has always been my passion to support my fellow Deaf peers, making a real difference to their lives and many more besides. I have such a wonderful network team of Communication and Employment Specialists to extend and drive my passion throughout the Welfare to Work industry. It’s a real testament to the teamwork to achieve this truly wonderful personal accolade”

Sally Chalk, Chief Executive Officer, Clarion UK

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