Alex’s Story

Alex’s Story

Alex came to Mustard Tree to build his confidence and explore his love of cooking. Alex is neurodivergent and has learning difficulties and hadn’t had a paid job before – he was looking to gain experience and a new sense of independence…

Alex joined Mustard Tree in 2021, as a trainee on The Freedom Project. Alex had done a bit of charity volunteering in the past, however, hadn’t had a paid job before. Through his previous voluntary experience, Alex developed an interest in cooking and gained his Food Hygiene Level 1 Certificate. Alex has a number of learning difficulties including dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia. Through The Freedom Project, he was hoping to gain new skills, explore his passion for cooking and build confidence and independence.

Alex began volunteering in the kitchen at Mustard Tree, twice a week, supporting the chefs to prepare meals and serving clients, volunteers, staff, and visitors at lunch time.

Alex was paired up with a Freedom Coordinator – Daisy, who helped him decide on well-being and employment goals for his time on the Freedom Project. “Alex immediately got on well with everyone, thanks to his friendliness and sunny personality” says Daisy.

Four weeks into his placement, Alex attended Mustard Tree’s Job Club. At Job Club, trainees and clients can access support to create CVs, apply for jobs and prepare for interviews. With help from the Job Club Team, Alex made a CV, uploaded it onto a recruitment website, and applied for a job, for the very first time.

With the guidance of Mustard Tree Chefs, Chris and Adam, Alex was also able to gain his Food Hygiene Level 2 Certificate, putting him another step closer to his goal of working within the Restaurant and Catering Industry. After 6 months at Mustard Tree, Daisy and Chris supported Alex to gain valuable work experience, taking a trip to Manchester United’s Red Café to visit a busy, working kitchen, as well as, completing a 1-week work placement at The Clayton Hotel.

Alex successfully graduated from The Freedom Project in December 2021, having built his confidence and belief in his abilities. Alex had gained a sense of independence and new skills to help him on the path to achieving his employment goals.

Through Mustard Tree, Alex was introduced to Raegan, a Disability and Employment Officer at the Department of Work and Pensions. Raegan supported Alex to search for apprenticeships, specifically for people with learning difficulties within the catering sector. Chris and Raegan worked together to look for suitable opportunities, where Alex could build on his enthusiasm for cooking, whilst his specific needs were respected and understood.

Alex met with a recruiter at The Marriot Hotel Worsley, about a Kitchen Porter role. Alex had a successful interview, aided by his Food Hygiene qualifications and the knife skills he learned on the Freedom Project. “The interview went really well” says Reagan “Alex was shown around the kitchen and introduced to the equipment he’d be using if he was employed. Myself and Alex’s mum were there to support him along the way.”

As of June 2022, Alex has been offered a 24hr contract as a Kitchen Porter at The Marriot and is looking forward to starting his employment journey. Raegan says, “Mustard Tree gave both the skills and confidence to get him where he is today”.