”Unlikely thought some, it must be possible hoped others and then it happened”

There just has to be some truth in the saying ‘never say never’, let me show you.

Midway through 2013, Michelle heard about Care First’s courses for adults with learning difficulties/disabilities, mental health challenges, brain injuries and autism and she decided with help from mum to find out more.

A month later she was enrolled and started attending 2 days a week learning via practical arts and crafts more communication and life skills, improving her maths and English as well as enjoying making all sorts of crafts ready to sell to the local community at various fairs and open days – which she helped out at all helping to boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Now back then it was Michelle’s wish to one day get a job, not any old job but a job she enjoyed – you wouldn’t believe how hard that is for an adult who learns differently, some would say highly unlikely, read on.

A year passed and in that year Michelle always attended, always tried hard and always helped other students now little did she know but this hadn’t gone unnoticed.

In the building that Michelle attended another Care First provision called Skills Tank was growing and as it grew a volunteers’ role was created now rather than advertise outside of the business, the business looked internally as it’s the belief to create opportunities where ever possible for our students to grow.

Michelle was an obvious choice; the timing was right as the course was coming to an end and with more funding cuts for free course on the horizon she might be back to square one looking for something engaging to do!

With some guidance and mentoring from the Skills Tank learning mentor Michelle’s volunteering journey began, she was now helping students with much greater difficulties than her own get more from their lives just like she had done in the craft course. Michelle becomes involved in:

  • Working with students in the kitchen learning to cook
  • Completing lesson paperwork
  • Helping students serve customers in the café
  • Supporting students to make and deliver sandwiches to local businesses
  • Café cleanliness and food preparation

As the challenges came Michelle’s way she took them head on and went from strength to strength – it’s amazing what’s possible in the right environment with a team that believes, really believes.  Michelle quickly became part of the team and she asked to volunteer more, 2 days, over time became 5.

Then, what was thought unlikely by some but hoped for by others happened, a part-time job in Skills Tank became available, Michelle was encouraged to apply and she was appointed.

From student to volunteer to paid job – it happened words can’t start to explain the pride, the joy, the oh wow!

December 2016, Michelle’s mum gave this short note to Skills Tank’s learning mentor, Michelle’s boss…read it, it’s only a few lines but the heartfelt gratitude from a mum that’s fought so hard for her daughter is clear.