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Darran Smith of Purple Rhino, Ashford, expands business to give deaf man Jak Barton a job

A profoundly deaf man who applied for more than 100 jobs without success has finally found employment after a business owner expanded his company to help him out.

Jak Barton has been deaf since birth, which has severely affected his speech, but he can read and write and has been applying for various jobs since he left school.

More than 100 applications led to just five interviews and none resulted in employment until he approached Purple Rhino, a pressure washing company on the Henwood Industrial Estate in Ashford.

Jak Barton with Purple Rhino boss Darran Smith. Picture: Gary Browne
Jak Barton with Purple Rhino boss Darran Smith. Picture: Gary Browne

Company owner Darran Smith was impressed by Jak’s dedication and was determined to help him find a job, even though he was too young to work for the firm.

Darran said: “About a year ago we interviewed Jak for a position at Purple Rhino. We could not employ him at the time, not because of his disability but because our van insurances cover from 25 years old and Jak was too young.

“Jak, now 24, kept in touch, often asking if anything was available. He came to visit me earlier this month and said: ‘Look, I’ve got my own van, can I have a job?’

'I can do this job just as well as anybody. I'll give 110%' - Jak Barton

“This really made me think, how can I help this youngster get into work and I thought perhaps we could start a driveway and patio cleaning service in Ashford and the rest of Kent.”

Part of Darran’s motivation to help Jak came from reading the 1937 self-help book Think and Grow Rich, which features a boy whose parents were told he would not amount to anything as he was born profoundly deaf.

But one doctor taught the boy to “hear” using vibrations and the youngster went on to become the head of an organisation devoted to supporting deaf children.

To overcome potential communication problems with customers, Darran will create a set of laminated phrases for Jak to show customers or he will write messages on a notepad.

Now Jak needs to build a customer base and Darran is hoping to get trade stands into supermarkets and showrooms to let people know about the new man in town.

Jak Barton is determined to give 110%. Picture: Gary Browne
Jak Barton is determined to give 110%. Picture: Gary Browne

Darran added: “I’m sure I’ve made a good choice and I hope Jak feels the same way.”

Speaking through an interpreter, Jak said: “I appreciate Darran giving me a chance because not many people will.

“I applied for a job at Purple Rhino because I like to work outside and work with my hands. I’m excited about starting properly.

“I can do the job just as well as anybody, maybe even better because I’m more determined. I’ll give 110%.”

Jak, who went to Sittingbourne Community College, studying in its Department for Deaf Students, was born in Ashford and hopes to move back soon as he is currently staying with his girlfriend in Rochester.

For more information or to help Jak out visit Purple Rhino's website or call 0800 157 7484.


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