“YOU should never just assume someone is not able to do something but find out what they can do,” says Jo Lawson.

Miss Lawson runs the Scope charity store in Bishop Auckland, where many of her 16 volunteers have disabilities or vulnerabilities.

The support she shows them has seen her featured in Amnesty International’s Suffragette Spirit map of Britain which, inspired by the centenary of first women winning the right to vote, acknowledges amazing women. The campaign was backed by Newsquest, publisher of The Northern Echo.

The 30-year-old, from Darlington, said: “It is nice to get recognition, it is not just a job, I love it. It isn’t just sales but there is a whole community here.”

Miss Lawson was praised for her kindness, care, nurturing and giving volunteers confidence to work in the shop.

She said: “When I got here I was told what volunteers couldn’t do or weren’t allow to, I look at the person not the disability.

“I’ve never seen what people cannot do but what they can do.

“I’ve always felt the world is the problem, not the disability so just asked them to try things and people can do so much more when supported.

“I’ve seen people grow in confidence and independence.”

Miss Lawson studied health and social care and childcare at college and after a Saturday job in a shoe shop joined Scope's Darlington shop before becoming manager of Bishop Auckland just over a year ago.

She said: “My dad Derek was a residential support worker and I remember stories and people he worked with and how rewarding that was.

“This role brings working in retail and helping people together.

“I really value the volunteers here and want to help them, I want them to be happy.”

The impact of Miss Lawson’s ‘they can do’ attitude has been remarkable for the volunteers she manages.

Among them is Gemma Marshall, 32, from Wolsingham, who has cerebral palsy and joined Scope after being frustrated by another charity placement.

She said: “I was supposed to do admin and customer services but after two weeks was asked to sit by the door and sell badges, that isn’t what I wanted and I knew I could do more.

“I went home one day and my mam said I might as well help Scope as it my charity.

“I feel much, much better here, I’m willing to give any job a go and Jo encourages us to do that. She is amazing, so supportive and caring.”

And jobseeker Mandy White, 49, of Evenwood, did an eight week work scheme with Scope 18months ago and has never left.

She said: “Jo takes the time to help people, to build us up and give us confidence and fully deserves this recognition."

“She makes us believe in ourselves and has made us a team of friends."