In November last year I went to a careers convention at Alexandra Palace to find some options. Here I was introduced to the Harington Scheme, which specifically works with young people with autism and learning difficulties.
The Harington Scheme was set up in 1980. It is a training centre based in Highgate. They provide unique opportunities for young people with special needs to gain skills on individual, tailor-made programmes in preparation for foundational education and future employment.
The programmes include learning Maths, English, ICT, social skills and employability. The students also do work experience to expand their skills and explore the working environment whilst being guided by friendly staff.
A week after the careers convention, my mum and I had a meeting with one of the staff members at the Harington Scheme. In December, I was booked to do a two-day taster session where I learnt about retail and gardening. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about different aspects of these activities.
At the beginning of the spring term, the Harington Scheme had arranged for me to help out in their charity shop for one week, and I also did another week in horticulture at their gardens in Highgate.
Having completed my two-weeks work experience I was exhausted, but also pleased to have the opportunity to explore and learn new skills.
At the retail shop I learnt skills such as, how to use the till, how to present the stock and customer service. Whilst doing gardening I was able to plant flowers, and Lollo Rosso a specific lettuce leaf, which requires delicate attention.
I enjoyed every minute being in a different world outside the college environment. I had the encouragement and support to help me gain more work experience and prepare me for the future to find the right path of employment.
At the moment I’m not sure about my future for definite. But hopefully I can do something that involves retailing or creativity. Similar to Exposure, the Harington Scheme is the best starting point to prepare me for my future career.
I would certainly recommend the Harington Scheme to young people with autism and learning difficulties. Work experience will help them build confidence and learn new skills in order to get them ready for work. For me it was a breath of fresh air.
If you wish to get involve in the Harington Scheme, then contact them either by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them: 020 3457 7997.
For more information on the Harington Scheme go to their website.