Andrew (33), came to Mustard Tree following a period of imprisonment and uncertainty around his future, falling out of employment for over five years. He is now about to embark on a new hospitality career after a successful spell on Mustard Tree’s lifeskills and employability programme – ‘Freedom’. This is his story of progression and newly discovered confidence.
“I was really down in the dumps for over five years before I discovered Mustard Tree – free from prison but passed from pillar to post by four different probation officers. Being autistic and low on confidence, I didn’t know where to turn.
Eventually, Andrew was referred to Mustard Tree in September 2018. After attending an open day and meeting people who were already on the Freedom Project – he decided to give it a go.
“On my first day I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I just knew that I wanted to work in the kitchen, which is where my training began. I met the chef, who discussed my previous experience and introduced me to the rest of the team. As kitchen work hasn’t always been my area of expertise, Rob – another Freedom volunteer – really took me under his wing and helped me settle my nerves”.
Andrew continued to train as an assistant in Mustard Tree’s kitchen two days a week, developing skills and attaining qualifications such as food hygiene, as well as growing his confidence.
“Mustard Tree provided a real working environment, they kept me on track and towards my ultimate goal of finding full-time employment. My confidence has increased ten-fold, and I’m not afraid to speak my mind and ask for help – which is still quite difficult from a male standpoint”.
Having gained self-assurance and skills, Mustard Tree helped Andrew secure part-time employment at a local golf club, with the potential for increased working hours based on performance.
“When I got offered the job, I was shocked – I thought someone was pranking me. I remember the night vividly, I was watching TV and my mum called me down to deliver the good news. I read the email over and over again in disbelief. I can’t describe the feeling of elation at the fact that someone had given me a chance”.
Building up over the last few months from one day a week, Andrew has now been offered a full-time position by his employer, and is ready to move on from the Freedom Project.
“I was very nervous when I first started, but the lads took me in and saw the potential in me. We have a good laugh whilst being professional at the same time. It’s brilliant to back in full-time work.
My goal now is to run my own restaurant someday (I’ve already got a place in mind – I’m just waiting for the lottery win!). I want to help Mustard Tree in the same way they helped me, by employing Freedom volunteers to work in my kitchen.
Mustard Tree is a family to me. They welcomed me with open arms and accepted me for all my quirks – giving me the confidence to accept me for what I am”.
We wish Andrew all the best in his new full-time position!
“Thank you for everything the team did for me. I will always remember Mustard Tree”.
You can download our Freedom Project Enquiry (Ancoats Hub) Form for our central Manchester hub, or the Freedom Project Enquiry (Salford Hub) Form for our Salford hubs. Email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also of course post it to us – find us here or for further information, please call us on 07803 428 709 / 0161 850 2282.
Click here form more information about our Freedom Project and how we can help.