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Kieren’s Employment Journey

November 30, 2023 Posted in: News

In a celebratory video created by Team Domenica, Kieren – a young man with learning disabilities – tells his supported internship story. In doing so, he demonstrates the benefits that come from having a diverse and inclusive workforce, not only for people like him, but for the entire workplace, and beyond.


Kieren’s story

Kieren has always been passionate about people; whether it’s making friends or making a difference, he is forever first in line. And now, thanks to the support of Team Domenica, Kieren is able to put his talents to use in his paid job at Premier Inn, Gatwick North Terminal.

Kieren joined the charity’s employment programmes back in 2021, not long after his 21st birthday. At this crucial point in his life, Kieren was simultaneously faced with navigating the seemingly inaccessible world of work, as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, his training helped him see a future full of potential. The support he received in Team Domenica’s training centre and cafés allowed him to develop the skills, confidence and independence needed to thrive in the workplace.

Team Domenica has made me more confident because I’ve learnt new skills and subjects. I really enjoyed working in the café, it was fun to learn how to use the tills and make coffees.

Kieren, Team Domenica Candidate

From supported internship…

During his first year, Kieren also completed three, seven-week work placements that allowed him to gain experience and find out what roles were right for him. When he moved onto the Supported Internship Programme in 2022, this knowledge was then used to pair him with an employer that matched his interests, skills and ambitions. As part of this process, each young person is also supported by an experienced Job Coach who works on-site with both the candidate and employer to ensure their mutual success.

Importantly, Team Domenica’s programmes are tailored to each young person’s needs. Kieren started his internship in a supportive and vibrant café that laid the foundations for his career. The staff nurtured his talents and built his skills. However, when rail strikes and other travel logistics meant that Kieren found his position difficult to maintain, the decision was mutually made to find him another placement closer to home. During this search Team Domenica’s employment team met with Ella (the Talent Attraction Partner for Whitbread) and partnered with the fantastic people behind Whitbread and Premier Inn.

… to workplace success!

Here, Kieren began working with Ollie – a kind, driven and patient manager who is committed to making a difference. Ollie and his team have been amazing at supporting Kieren in every aspect of his training, from clearing plates as part of the breakfast service, to pouring pints on a busy Friday night behind the bar. They have allowed Kieren the space, time and training to truly thrive in the hotel.

When Kieren comes to work, he really does bring his A-game. He’s always really passionate about what he’s doing and he’s driven to really deliver for the guests. The relationship that the team have with Kieren is very unique and strong as well, he brings so much energy to the workplace I feel like it naturally brings everyone together.

Ollie, Restaurant General Manager at Premier Inn, Gatwick North

A star server and record setter

With the combined efforts of Team Domenica and Premier Inn, it wasn’t long until Kieren began to absolutely flourish in his new role. In fact, despite being the largest Premier Inn in the country (with over 700 rooms!) Kieren has fitted into the team effortlessly. He was even offered a paid position after only six weeks in the role – a Team Domenica record!!

I’m really glad to be in the workplace. I love working at Premier Inn and I’m really excited for the future.

Kieren, Team Domenica Candidate

At a time when the number of people with learning disabilities in paid employment has fallen to 5.1% in England (NHS Digital, 2021), Team Domenica continue to show that it doesn’t need to be this way – people with learning disabilities want to work, and can work.

Well done to Kieren for all he has achieved, we cannot wait to see what you do next! To see some of Team Domenica’s other Success Stories, please click here.


Kieren’s journey demonstrates Whitbread’s belief that there should be no barriers to entry, no limits to ambition. What’s more, as part of their new Thrive Programme, they are expanding their partnerships with a number of Post-16 Special Educational Needs (SEN) establishments across the UK. Head to their website to find out more about how they’re making a difference.

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