"I proved myself to the University during my internship"
Last year, Ground staff at the University of Northampton teamed up with 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. 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 at Park Campus.
All of Gary’s hard work has paid off, as following a short contract in the summer he has now been offered a fixed term 12 month paid contract with the University down at Waterside.
John Howes, External Services Manager 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 a full time paid role. He’s an absolute asset.
“I’ve always been confident in Gary’s abilities, but he’s really proven himself to both the wider team and the University. I hope to be able to offer more placements to service users in the future.”
Gary has been enjoying getting his hands dirty, even in the cold. He said: “I am keeping very busy! I’m on the on-call rota, and have been out on grit control making things safe. Everyone is making me feel very welcome.” He has been undertaking different training courses as part of his role, including manual handling and fire training. “I like being busy,” he explained. “As long as i’m busy I’m happy, and time goes quickly.”
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.
John added: “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.”
(Pictured left to right: Gary, Kate, John).