After completing his horticultural course at college, Thomas Astleford decided he wanted a job working outside. His mother knew that he had the passion and a good work ethic to be great at anything he put his mind to, but she was worried that, because Thomas has some special educational needs, he would struggle at the interview stage and this, in turn, could be damaging to his confidence.

The family decided to speak to the YPLP (The Young People’s Learning Provision) which is an alternative college in Lincoln that helps young students who have educational needs. Working in partnership with St Philip’s Care for a number of years, the YPLP has found placements within the St Philip’s Care team in Lincoln for many young students, including carers, kitchen staff and maintenance staff.

Carys McCormick, part of the YPLP team said “St Philip’s Care always looks at a person’s strengths and is happy to be more diverse when doing an interview. They will give anyone a chance to prove they are up to the job and that’s why we are very happy to continue to work in partnership with them.”

The YPLP liaised with Samantha Pagram, manager at Canwick Court, and suggested that Thomas had a working interview, where he could demonstrate his skills, rather than taking on a traditional interview. Samantha agreed to this, which was crucial for Thomas, as it enabled him to have an equal opportunity to showcase his work skills and, following this interview, he was offered the garden maintenance position, working five hours per week.

Thomas has now been working at Canwick Court for the past few months and loves every minute of it. His parents are thrilled, explaining that Thomas has grown in confidence and has the motivation to do more going forward.

“Finding a job has made me feel confident and given me a purpose,” says Thomas. “I look forward to seeing how far I can go in the future.”

Samantha Pagram, manager at Canwick Court said “Thomas is a hard worker and spends most of the time knee-deep in dirt. He always has a smile on his face and is a pleasure to have here at Canwick Court Care Centre.”

The YPLP has also nominated Thomas for the SEND Employment Award. The awards will take place in July at Lincoln Football Ground and everyone at St Philip’s Care wishes him the very best of luck.