Earlier this year, ground staff at the University of Northampton teamed up with mental healthcare charity St Andrew’s to offer service users the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
1st Degree Facilities, the company which maintains the University estate, offered work placements to service users at Workbridge – St Andrew’s employment support service.
The first placement was undertaken by Gary, who put his vast experience in gardening and horticulture to good use, working with the ground staff to prune plants, collect leaves and plant in the university allotment.
All of Gary’s hard work has paid off, as he’s about to embark on a six-week paid contract with the University.
John Howes, Grounds Supervisor for 1st Degree Facilities, explained: “We’ve been impressed with Gary’s horticultural knowledge, skills and his enthusiasm and so we were only too happy to offer him the six-week placement with us.
“Our partnership with Workbridge is a brilliant example of social inclusion which not only benefits their service users, also gives our staff the experience of working with people who they might not otherwise have come into contact with.”
Gary is looking forward to getting his hands dirty. He said: “I am going to be happy to be earning money rather than claiming benefits; it will be nice to pay my own bills.”
Kate Allen, Employment Support Assistant added: “I am absolutely delighted for Gary, he has proved to himself, and the University, that he has a lot to offer in terms of skills and experience and that his colleagues recognise his positive contribution to their team.”
Workbridge 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 by clicking here.
Gary is pictured left, with John Howes.