STUDENTS at a Stockton school have been celebrating their achievements after completing a programme designed to enhance their employment prospects.
Thirty-five students at Abbey Hill School and Technology College completed the course, which was provided by Stockton Council’s STEPs service.
The STEPs service provides support for vocational training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities in the Borough.
The students enjoyed opportunities to access work experience, a work preparation programme and training to travel independently.
Nine of them were able to secure paid employment but all involved have benefited from the information, advice and guidance they received.
Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “The opportunity to work and be as independent as possible is important to everyone. Young people with disabilities face a particular range of challenges – I’m delighted this programme is making a difference and helping these young people get into work.”
John Hancock is 17 years old and has a learning disability; he attended the Sheraton Building at Abbey Hill School and Technology College . John is currently on the STEPs 2 Employment programme where he has completed a Work Preparation programme and recently secured paid employment with support from the First STEPs Programme; this is funded by Stockton Council’s Youth Initiative Programme.
John said: “I work in a local Reablement Centre, in a role supporting the care staff. I look forward to going to work every week. I feel like I am doing something really worthwhile because a lot of my job involves interacting with the people who are staying in the centre, and this makes me feel that I am achieving something myself but also that I am helping others. I think my job suits me, and I do it really well.
“Before I got my job I was lonely and used to worry about things, I feel that having a job now has brought me out of my shell and helped me feel more confident, even in other areas of my life where I have become more outgoing.
Maria Hancock, John’s mother, said: “STEPs is a wonderful organisation, they have made a dream come true for my son by helping him to get a job and being paid for it – as his parents we never thought it could happen.”
The service aims to build on individual’s aims and interests, develop skills and achieve realistic goals.
Practical help is given to help identify and plan the steps required towards achieving employment.