University ground staff offer a helping hand to mental health charity

News Page 11th April 2018

Ground staff at the University of Northampton recently teamed up with a mental healthcare organisation to offer patients the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

1st Degree Facilities, the company which maintains the University estate, has offered work placements for those at St Andrew’s Healthcare’s employment support service, Workbridge.

Gary, who has vast experience in gardening and horticulture, undertook the first placement on campus, where he spent eight weeks working with the ground staff.

He said: “I’ve been going to Workbridge for eight years now, and I have enjoyed getting my hands dirty at the Workbridge garden centre. This placement was great; I’ve been pruning plants, collecting the leaves and helping in the University allotment. It was great opportunity for me, and I hope it leads to other things.”

John Howes, Grounds Supervisor for 1st Degree Facilities, said: “We were only too happy to work with St Andrew’s and offer its users the chance to work alongside our team.

“We’ve been really impressed with Gary’s horticultural knowledge, and he’s proving himself to be a fantastic asset to our team. Hopefully the experience he picks up working with us will help him to find employment.”

Workbridge – part of St Andrew’s Healthcare – supports people with mental illness, learning disabilities, autism or brain injuries to reach their full potential.  As their confidence grows, the Workbridge Employment Support Service helps people to take their skills to the next level, offering 12-week work placements with a variety of local employers.

Further information on Workbridge can be found on the website,, or by visiting .

Pictured from left: Darren Rathbone, Angie Bruce, Gary and John Howes.

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