By Sanoj Seneviratne, Deptford Bridge Food store

I was born in Sri Lanka and have been living in England for the last seven years. Having been born deaf, I had to learn Sri Lankan sign language at a very early age before moving onto the universally known British Sign Language (BSL). The transition from one to the other was tough, but I managed and I’m now involved within the deaf community. 

My parents can both hear, and they still live in Sri Lanka. I’ve been teaching them sign language throughout my entire life so we can all communicate with each other. I’m the baby of the family and have three other siblings – a sister who lives in the UK and is hearing, a brother in France who is deaf and another brother in Australia who is hearing. 

My wife comes from Romania and is also deaf. Together, we’ve got a beautiful two-year-old daughter who isn’t deaf. She’s very sweet and I’m so proud of her as she has her own personality and can communicate with us in her own little way.

My disability doesn’t stop me from doing what I’m passionate about which is continuing to study English. I feel it’s important to improve my knowledge of English reading and writing to create a great future for myself and my family. I’m hoping it’ll also help me to progress my career within our Co-op. 

I’ve been working part time in our Co-op since September 2020, and I’ve loved every moment as it helps me connect with people and it challenges me. One of my favourite things is working with the freshly baked goods each morning – they smell so good; it always puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day! 

My team have been incredibly welcoming, helpful, and inclusive of me with my deafness. They’ve even displayed posters around the office and the work place with BSL signs to help other colleagues and customers sign to me which is really nice to see. During my shifts, I have an interpreter with me who helps me to communicate easily with my team and customers. 

I hope that by sharing my story it’ll help other colleagues, who may be experiencing something like me, to see that how truly inclusive Co-op really is. As long as I have my interpreter, I truly believe I can do anything! 

Additional support

If you are disabled and need support, your line manager should be your first point of contact to ensure you have the reasonable adjustments and support you need. Additionally, please feel free to reach out to our Represent Network by emailing disabilitynetwork@coop.co.uk.

We’re currently trialling the option for colleagues to speak to someone directly to access support and guidance. To access the Reasonable Adjustment helpline colleagues should contact the HR Services Team directly on 0330 606 1001 and select option 1.