Facilitating Progression

3 July 2017
Blog post

This blog will be about how to achieve success in your life without doing a thing.

Oh wait, is that what’s known as “fake news”!?

Actually, this year two young men that I have been working with have demonstrated that success comes after effort and hard work, being prepared to try new things and not giving up after set-backs, with support and encouragement from those around them.

These young men are Joseph and Thomas – identical twins who live in a small town in the north of Wiltshire and who particularly enjoy technology and music. They also have Asperger syndrome.

At the start of the year in September, neither of them was travelling independently and they hadn’t experienced regular paid or unpaid work. Thomas was starting a distance learning course for both functional Maths and English which was very different to his previous experience of attending College. Joseph was also beginning an English distance learning course for the first time.

It’s now near the end of the academic year. In English, both twins have achieved their respective levels, a testament to how hard they have worked. Thomas has achieved a Level 2 and Joseph a Level 1 in English functional skills.

Equally, they have progressed to consistently travelling independently on buses around their local community and are therefore able to access the bigger towns in the area (Swindon and Chippenham). Small steps were taken towards achieving each target along the way: there have been a few hiccups and backward steps but they have kept going and are now able to continue their independent travel once they leave MacIntyre.

Finally, the world of work is enough to scare anyone at times and the anxiety felt towards employment was something shared by both Thomas and Joseph. Thomas started volunteering in a charity shop called Uplands and although he experienced some success there, found some parts of it overwhelming. This led to a change of role working on an online music site in a quieter room. His response was that he felt much happier in the new position. Unfortunately, the shop’s tenancy came to an end and Thomas was unable to carry on. However, within a few weeks, he had independently asked about working in another shop and was offered the opportunity to volunteer there, which he accepted. Thomas’s confidence in his approach to finding work is growing all the time and the fact that he carried on through some challenging moments to end up feeling happy in a more suitable role was a great accomplishment for him, supported by a very understanding employer.

At the same time, Joseph tried a session volunteering at Swindon foodbank and has been there ever since, his confidence and communication with other volunteers visibly growing as the weeks have gone by. He will regularly ask other volunteers questions rather than just me and will greet everyone with a cheery “Good morning” on arrival. He is learning the importance of working as part of a team and has contributed to the informal rota of making the teas and coffees for break, which involves asking everyone else what they would like to drink. The increased confidence that Joseph has found throughout this year has been wonderful to observe, particularly whilst volunteering.

So now, Joseph and Thomas are able to travel independently; they have both maintained a voluntary position for several months and they have succeeded in passing their appropriate levels in English via distance learning, not something either had used before. They have both attended and engaged in every session and the results are clear to see.

Of course, this is not the end of the story.

Joseph, Thomas – a huge ‘Well done’ to you both for your work this year! I hope you will go on to experience future success in whatever you choose to do and that you feel proud of your achievements so far. I have very much enjoyed working with you both.

Helen Gould

Community Learning Facilitator

No Limits, Wiltshire