A teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome was among a group of young people being helped into the world of work thanks to a pioneering partnership between the Prince’s Trust and a care organisation.
Lucy Williams, 18, from Minera, was one of four candidates to complete the three-week long Get into Care training course at Pendine Park in Wrexham where the scheme has been running for four years.
They all said their confidence and self-esteem had been given a massive boost.
The quartet were presented with certificates for successfully completing the course and they all secured job interviews to become care practitioners.
According to Lucy, becoming a care practitioner would be a “dream come true”.
Lucy, who lives with her parents and has one sister who is at university, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as a child and thought she might struggle to find a suitable career..
She said: “I was diagnosed when I was six but they thought I wouldn’t understand and I wasn’t told until I was 15.
“Communication can be awkward and sometimes I just need space and to be on my own for a short while. I genuinely didn’t think I’d find something that suited me.
“I went to catering college but just couldn’t get on and it was my tutor that suggested I look at the Princes’ Trust, Pendine Park and a career in care. I signed up for the course and it’s been amazing.
“I just wanted to show I could become a care professional. It’s been a massive confidence boost and right from the start I just wanted to get involved. I’ve now had an interview and fingers crossed I’ll be taken on.”
She added: “I’ve loved working with residents and just seeing them smile and having fun has really made it worthwhile. I’ve been working with Nicky Clarke, the activities co-ordinator at Bryn Bella Care Home.
“I now know that becoming a care practitioner means everything to me, it’s what I want to do and thanks to the Prince’s Trust and Pendine Park I hope I get my chance.”
Wrexham County Borough Council tutor Sonia Baines has worked with Lucy and signposted her toward the Princes Trust’s Get into Care course.
She said: “I’m so proud of her. I work with young people to see what they want and how we might help get them into work. Lucy came to me from college where she just wasn’t getting on, it just wasn’t for her.
“We talked about working in care and I recognised with the qualities she had it could be the perfect role for her.
“We got Lucy to come along for an open day at Pendine Park and then got her involved with the Princes Trust and the Get into Care course.
“The course might only have been three weeks long but the change in Lucy is remarkable. She has grown in confidence, it’s amazing.”
Bryn Bella Care Home activities co-ordinator Nicky Clarke says Lucy was well liked by all the residents she came into contact with.
She said: “She did really well and I watched her confidence grow over the time she worked with me.
“Our role is to encourage residents and to get them involved when they want to be involved and Lucy had a great way with those residents who are less able. She will, I’m sure, make a good care practitioner.”
Dominic Evans, 20, of Cefn Mawr, Wrexham, who also took part in the course, said: “My mum is a careers advisor and she sent me a link to the Prince’s Trust course. I’ve always wanted to work in a care environment but lacked confidence. And with no experience I hadn’t much chance of getting a career in the care sector.
“I applied for the course and was amazed to get on. It might have only been for three weeks but it seems like a lifetime. It’s helped my confidence and self-belief massively; I’m almost a different person.”
Sian Jones, Prince’s Trust executive for North Wales, said: ““This is about young people who are work ready but perhaps lack the skills, knowledge and experience to get into the work sector of their choice and the environment that they want to work in.”
“Pendine Park is so important to us. They are giving these young people the skills and work experience they need to forge careers of their own and to achieve more than they thought they were perhaps capable of.”
“We see confidence boosted and a real change in their self-belief. If you had asked any of these four candidates could they stand up in front of a room full of people three weeks ago the answer would have been no.
“Yet today they have given a presentation and spoke confidently and in an assured way. We can’t thank Pendine Park Care organisation, the training staff and the care home staff enough.”
Gill Hughes, Pendine Park Care Organisation’s regulation and compliance manager and responsible individual says she hope to see Pendine’s relationship with the Princes Trust continues to grow.
She said: “This is the fourth year we have worked with the Trust and it’s an association we are keen to see grow. We see far too many young people today lacking in confidence and important communication skills.
“This Get in to Care course is all about giving young people the skills they need to apply, and hopefully be successful, in beginning a career in the care industry.
“We are really proud to work with the Princes Trust. The benefit of working with these wonderful young people is obvious and clear to everyone and it’s so important to give direction to those that need a helping hand.”
She added: “I know the feedback I have had from home managers and the enrichment teams has been very encouraging.
“I think it’s fair to say we are very proud of what these young people have achieved. But we can only help the hard work has been done by the young people themselves.”