• Carl is ‘made up’ to be living his plumbing dream

Ellesmere Port resident Carl Knox is one step closer to achieving his dream of becoming a plumber thanks to a scheme which helped him prepare for job interviews and secure the hands-on work experience he needed.

Carl, 47, has faced barriers to achieving his career dreams due to his Asperger’s, anxiety and caring commitments for his elderly Mum.

But for the past four months, Carl has been thriving and impressing colleagues at property services business Liberty, where he’s been getting on-the-job experience with the plumbing services team.

He secured the work placement through the Journey First programme, which provides one to one support for young people and adults across Cheshire and Warrington to identify strengths and open up employment and training opportunities.

Carl, who has been working with employment support officer Hasan Hijazi, said: “I’ve always wanted to be a plumber so when I got involved in Journey First I asked if they could arrange some hands-on experience for me.

“My worker, Hasan, got me an interview with Liberty and when he told me I got it, I was made up! I didn’t think I would. I’ve got the diploma which proved my technical knowledge but I really needed the on-the-job experience. I’m getting that now through my placement and I’m really enjoying it.

“I love plumbing because I get to work with my hands and with tools. Meeting new people and working as part of a team is great. This experience could help me achieve NVQ Level 2 or even 3 which is my goal. My dream would be permanent employment working as a plumber and working at Liberty is giving me a real insight into what this would be like.”

In addition to help finding opportunities, Hasan from the Journey First Programme supported Carl to prepare for his interview with Liberty and address anxiety which had previously impacted his experience of interviews and knocked his confidence. Carl was ultimately successful for the placement and Hasan liaised with Liberty to negotiate adjustments to help him thrive in the role.

Carl’s colleague at Liberty Phillip Fawcett said: “It’s been great having Carl on the team. He’s so keen to learn and gets stuck into any job. He’s always asking questions and getting to grips with as many different scenarios as possible. He’ll make a great plumber.”

Carl added: “I feel very positive about my future. Working at Liberty has given me a great opportunity to develop the skills I need to become a plumber. Hasan has been great and supported me to fit this around my evening studies (I’m learning maths), build healthier habits and manage my work life balance.”

Funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), the Journey First programme is a partnership initiative between Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership to provide intensive 1-2-1 support for young people and adults across the sub-region. It aims to help people identify and strengthen skills and reach goals, whether that be support with job searches and employment or access to further education or training.

Liberty delivers people-focused, intelligence-driven property services that deliver better outcomes for customers and clients. It repairs and maintain buildings, manage properties, builds homes and support clients with all their property needs.

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