Young gardeners are gaining a head start in the job market.
The initiative has been launched by the borough council’s work choice scheme which offers employment support for adults with disabilities and long term health conditions.
The council team is able to help employers recruit staff with additional needs by supporting them to make adjustments in the work place.
They also raise awareness among staff in how to support their new colleague with new employees mentored, including on the job training, to help them succeed in their new role.
The project has seen 20-year-old Chris Jones from Saughall, who has learning difficulties, being given a job at Bridge Community Farm in Ellesmere Port.
His delight in gaining a job moved many people who had been backing Chris in his search for a better life to tears, especially his manager at the farm Clair Johnson.
She said: “Chris’s parents were concerned that Chris would have difficulties getting employment but I am glad that we have been able to work with the council to do that.“
Chris said: “My job is to sort out the plants and vegetables. The council helped me to get a job here and my mentor supported me while I settled in.”
Matthew Wilkinson, 22, from Ellesmere Port, has also started working on the farm as part of the scheme and his life has changed hugely as a result.
He said: “I found it hard to get out of bed in the morning and now, coming here, I am finding it easier everyday. I am happy the council is helping me to work here because I love my job.”
Ryan Sims, 21, from Blacon in Chester, started working at the farm two years ago and struggled with confidence at first.
He had never been on a bus on his own before starting his job so the team at the farm supported him to give him the skills to use public transport and to make his own way to work. He said: “Now it is very good, I know my way around.”
Clair commented: “It has changed his life completely. It has changed him for the better because now he has got independence.”
Ryan has improved so much since then and has been able to secure a permanent job at the farm.
Back at the farm Clair said: “I would encourage anyone that gets a chance to work with the council’s work zone in Ellesmere Port just to do it. Take the first step, that is the most difficult part, but take it because there is so much help available to build confidence, experience, skills and knowledge.”
Cllr Louise Gittins, the borough’s communities and wellbeing chief, said: “It can be difficult for people with learning difficulties to secure employment despite the fact that people have many skills and qualities to offer organisations.
“The council’s Work Choice scheme has given people vital support on their road to a successful life by supporting employers to get to know the person and discover first-hand the skills and qualities they offer.”
The council has also launched a new supported employment service to continue the work supporting the employment of adults with learning disabilities or mental health issues.
Employers in West Cheshire who want to get involved or people who are looking for this type of employment support for themselves or a family member can contact LSES@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.