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by Christine Oakes from Aberystwyth, mother of Engage to Change participant Tom Oakes. 

This programme has offered Tom, aged 23, that crucial link from a supported institutionalised setting of school/college to the adult world of life and work.

Tom is on the autistic spectrum. The step from education to work is a challenge for all young adults but for those with learning difficulties, it can be very complex and troublesome. The need to have a professional body with the personnel and skill to empower the young people through this transitional stage is so necessary. It boosts their self-esteem and sense of worth and helps mental and physical well-being.

This obviously helps all family associated with the individual, as to empower your child to be healthy, happy and as independent as possible must be your ultimate vocation as a parent.

Tom’s journey has included a vast range of work experience and he did very well to achieve a Level 1 in Catering from Coleg Ceredigion in June 2018. However, looking for paid work was far more challenging as Tom’s moderate learning difficulties don’t present clearly. He is dyslexic, has slow processing skills, and can get stressed if he is not clear about what he is doing. However, within an environment that is aware and empathetic of this he can thrive. This is where Engage to Change and work mentor Bethan Hughes has played a crucial role.

Following on from the Job Centre’s excellent support, with Tom applying for work experience at Bronglais Hospital, Engage to Change could then facilitate a further 6 months of paid work for Tom in the hospital kitchen supported by his work coach Bethan on a weekly basis.

Tom has worked hard, grown in confidence, and fitted well into routines. He has felt so empowered earning his own money and feels really valued as a person who has focus and commitments in the adult world!

This opportunity has launched Tom into a secure and valued place in the world of work, but more importantly his own self-confidence and sense of worth has flourished.

Thank you so much Agoriad, Bethan Hughes and Engage to Change. Tom and the family are extremely grateful and appreciative.