Bob lands first job against the odds

14 December 2020

Minstead Trust’s pioneering jobs scheme for people with learning disabilities has helped a young man get his first paid job, despite the impact of the global pandemic.

Bob is 22 and has been building his work skills on the Step Up For Work programme for the last 12 months. The programme is run by Hampshire-based charity Minstead Trust to provide people with learning disabilities with the skills and opportunities they need to gain employment.

Bob at Skanska Totton depot

Bob’s learning disabilities mean he sometimes struggles to stay focused and can become easily distracted. With the help of his job opportunities mentor he has overcome these challenges to land the role of Store Person Assistant at Skanska UK’s Totton depot.

This is a significant achievement as only six per cent of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital 2018).

The 12 month Step Up for Work programme is therefore crucial and pioneering in the work experience opportunities it gives to its participants. The programme involves five steps to employment success:

  1. Participants are assigned a job opportunities mentor for an initial assessment on the type of role they are looking for and what skills they will need to be successful
  2. Up to 12 workshops on topics including workplace expectations, health and safety, personal hygiene and practical work-related skills.
  3. A work placement of up to 26 weeks in a Minstead Trust social enterprise to develop real-life work skills in a supportive environment
  4. Work placement with external employer supported by job opportunities mentor on travel training, CV writing and interview techniques
  5. Support into permanent paid employment.

Bob’s work placement was in the Arts Café at Hanger Farm Arts Centre, which is a social enterprise run by Minstead Trust. He is the second graduate of the programme to gain paid employment, after Rhianne started work at Paulton’s Park earlier this year.

Neil Saunders, Minstead Trust Job Opportunities Mentor, said: ‘We are incredibly proud of Bob and Rhianne for getting their first paid jobs after working so hard on the Step Up for Work programme.

‘All of the participants in the programme work very hard to learn work skills, undertake placements and work towards employment. It’s a delight to see that our tailored approach to supporting them is paying off and helping them achieve their aim of living a more independent and fulfilled life. We are looking forward to helping even more people to overcome their challenges and seek employment in the coming year. ’

Charlie Green, Customer Liaison Manager at Skanska UK, said: ‘Skanska are absolutely committed to supporting the communities where we work, and seeing the great potential of the Step Up For Work programme offered by Minstead Trust it was clear that this was something we wanted to be part of.

‘Bob had a brilliant interview and came across as professional and enthusiastic. He’s made a significant impression on all of us at Skanska, and we are looking forward to welcoming him as part of the team.

‘I also want to thank Minstead Trust in developing the successful Step Up for Work programme. We’ve created a relationship that Skanska is proud of, and hope to continue with in the years to come.’

Minstead Trust supports more than 200 people with learning disabilities across Hampshire through supported living accommodation, day opportunities and employment training.

The coronavirus lockdown has been hugely challenging for the Trust, with its income vastly reduced as its social enterprises closed for several months. The Trust runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead, Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton and Minstead Lodge hospitality and events venue. These enterprises also offer work experience for people with learning disabilities to work towards employment.

Find out more about the scheme and how you could get involved at

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