A fire service volunteer has gained vital life and social skills thanks to a scheme which helps people with autism.
The Autism Centre for Supported Employment, is a small charity which supports adults with autism, aspergers and learning disabilities into paid employment and work experience placements.
Jonathon Clarke, from Sheffield, has been volunteering at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, through the scheme, for the past two years, working in the canteen at the Training & Development Centre in Handsworth, Sheffield, two days a week.
His role involves preparing meals for the dozens of firefighters, support staff and external partners who use the busy centre every day.
Jonathon, who has autism, says he loves his work at the fire service, citing feelings of value, respect and teamwork for improving his wellbeing. The favourite parts of his role include interacting with colleagues and firefighters and preparing salads and desserts.
Jonathon, 31, is learning and gaining new skills in a safe environment with staff that he trusts and who have the skills and training to understand and support his needs.
Jonathon Clarke said; “I like to meet everybody at work and they are very friendly with me. When I prepare the food I enjoy that people like to eat what I make and that everyone is so pleased with me. I enjoy catching the buses and going to work every week and know that I am doing well.”
Sue Butler, Volunteering Co-ordinator at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue said; “Jonathon has continued to show excellent commitment to his volunteering role and has learned a lot of new skills since starting work with us. As well as supporting the smooth running of our busy training centre, we know we are giving him important employment skills which he will be able to transfer to future jobs. The team are really supportive of him, and Jonathon seems to love working with them. We are really proud of Jonathon, he is a credit to the training centre, the Autism Centre and to himself.”
If you are interested in volunteering for South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue call 0114 253 2413.