A man with learning difficulties has been celebrating the achievement of a personal milestone with family and friends at a specialist training centre in the Dorset village of Sixpenny Handley.
Not only has Andrew Michael-Phillips earned the National Open College Network (NOCN) entry level 3 certificate in ‘Gaining Craft Skills for Employment,’ he has so impressed his new employers at the village’s Crossroads Café that they decided to fund a presentation evening as a ‘thank you’ for his dedication.
Andrew, aged 41, is one of seven people with learning disabilities or mental health needs who have gained an NOCN certificate this year, thanks to skills developed at Town Farm Workshop, an Outcomes With Learning (OWL) centre run by private care-provider Regard.
Service manager, Helen Ritson, said: “Andrew joined us at Town Farm Workshop in 2012, taking part in pottery and weaving as well as going swimming and to the gym, and his is a real success story.
“After several months’ attendance he had gained a huge amount of confidence and developed friendships, so he decided to make the move from his parents’ home to a supported living flat in Cranborne, also run by Regard.
“With support he has continued to experiment with new activities at the workshop and has also been involved in exhibitions and events, including Bovington Arts and Craft and Larmer Tree Festival.”
During 2015 Andrew enrolled on the NOCN course and was supported by TFW tutors to complete units such as career preparation, setting goals for personal development, customer service skills, and health and safety procedures.
Having successfully completed his qualification in early 2016, Andrew was then supported to secure a work experience placement at the Crossroads Café in Sixpenny Handley.
David Salmons, the café organiser said: “This work placement has been a great success. Andrew makes a determined effort to always be on time and works really hard.
“We consider him a great asset at the café, and we’re thrilled that his work with us has contributed to the widening of his social circle, and helped further develop his skills and confidence.”
Visitors to the Crossroads Café make donations to help cover its running costs, with any excess being donated to charity.
David said: “We decided it would be nice to donate to Town Farm Workshops as a kind of ‘thank you’ to Andrew for all his efforts.
“Since a special event was being planned at which NOCN certificates were to be presented to all the successful candidates, including Andrew, we decided the donation from the café would be well spent on covering the cost of this grand affair.”
Over 70 family and friends came along to the presentation evening to help celebrate the achievement of Andrew and his six peers.
Andrew said: “We had a great time together. Thank you to my tutors at Town Farm Workshop and to David for his support.”