Colse Leungstories

Bristol man's life changed by charity that paid him his first ever wage

Colse Leungstories
Bristol man's life changed by charity that paid him his first ever wage
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Jack Stone has been interested in anything old fashioned, particularly cars from a young age.

The 25-year-old's fascination sees him draw endless pictures of them and he is blessed with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. His parents wanted to engage his enthusiasm more, so they bought a classic Austin 7 and spend their days going to vintage car rallies.

For three days a week Jack attends a charity in Bristol that helps people with learning difficulties reach their full potential. He is one of ten people with different learning difficulties that have a placement with Creative Opportunities, a charity based at the Vassall Centre in Fishponds.

They currently have 10 adults on full time work placements, specialising in growing and preparing food, for which they are paid. The organisation started life in 2017 and is the brainchild of Corinne Stricker, who previously worked in disability services for 15 years.

She wanted to create a space where adults with learning difficulties could be valued and be given meaningful support into work. She said: “We want to empower people with cooking, making and growing food. All healthy food as well and through the vehicle of placements they get paid while they learn these valuable life skills.”

At the end of each nine month placement, there is still a daunting step into a job in the outside world, which can be challenging for people with learning difficulties. However, Creative Opportunities has a high success rate in supporting people into employment, many of which have never had any paid employment before.

Jake's placement is soon coming to an end and the 25-year-old has become a firm favourite with staff there.

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Autism can mean people have a tendency to become very interested in specialised subjects. For Jake this manifests in a fascination with anything vintage and pre 1940, and in particular cars.

He said: "I love all vintage cars. I have liked them since I was a kid, I don’t know, I just do. I like to draw cartoons of them."

Jake’s fascination in vintage cars increased with age, until one day his parents thought it would be a good idea to buy one for the family home. They bought a classic Austin 7 and it's Jake’s pride and joy. He drives it around car parks but not on the road and is primarily taken to vintage shows around the west country.

Mandy added: “Yeah he loves it, sitting in the car being the centre of attention. He’s able to talk to people about the ins and outs of it, which I don't really understand. His knowledge is astonishing, he can rattle off all the facts and figures.”

Jake was showing of his vintage car at an open day at the Vassall Centre, with a donation for people that wanted to sit in the car. To accompany the experience he had prepared a folder with about 50 photos of vintage cars, with an explanation of each.

Mandy said: "He was at the computer for a couple of hours and did it all last night - off the cuff.”

Being on a placement at Creative Opportunities has been a very positive experience for him.

Jake said: “It is a good team of people. I get to work with vegetables and make dishes. I can now cook what I want to.”

Creative Opportunities have an allotment, and a kitchen space and they use these activities to develop confidence, focus and transferable skills for the workplace .

Jake’s passion is drawing, and that’s where he sees his next step.

He said: “I want to do anything that involves using a pencil really.”

She said: "Well it’s great for him here, and he has a structure and support around here. He likes a set routine, so yes I am worried what will come next. But am sure it will work out fine.”

Creative Opportunities founder Corinne say that an exit strategy for people on completing their placements is always at the forefront of their minds.

She said: “We have a 70 per cent record of people leaving with employment , offer continued support to people on leaving and are always available for a chat.”

Source: https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-man-autism-loved-vintage-3150559