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Charity and a local employer team up to help get Damian back into work

PUBLISHED: 15:03 22 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:16 05 April 2013

A young Bridgwater man with learning difficulties has told how his struggle to find work shattered his confidence, until a partnership between a charity and local packaging firm helped him find employment, which transformed his life.

A young Bridgwater man with learning difficulties has told how his struggle to find work shattered his confidence, until a partnership between a charity and local packaging firm helped him find employment, which transformed his life.


Damian Lewis, 22, of Bridgwater, says his learning difficulties, which prevent him from taking in information quickly; and his interview nerves had destroyed his confidence; leaving him feeling frustrated, without faith of ever finding a job.


Hope was given when he was referred to disability charity Shaw Trust through the governments Work Choice programme. He now has a job working with a leading regional employer, packaging firm Sharpak, in Bridgwater.


Jacqui Markham, of Shaw Trust, spotted the potential in Damian. She says, Damian lives in a rural part of Somerset where opportunity is sadly limited. Out of work, he felt very unsure about his future until he was referred to us by the Job Centre in Taunton. He joined our Work Choice programme, which is a government initiative providing specialist support to help disabled people into work.


He received one-to-one support in his search for a job, as well as training in interview skills and CV writing. When the opportunity with Sharpak came about, Damian needed support with transport, and we have helped with this, including arranging free moped hiring.


Shaw Trusts Work Choice employment programme is part-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund (ESF). The Fund was set up to improve employment opportunities, and in England is investing in jobs and skills focusing on people, like Damian, who need support the most and helping them fulfil their potential.


Damian says, Before I received help, I had no confidence and very little self worth. There was no purpose to my day, and I had almost given up completely on finding a job. The training and support Shaw Trust has given me has improved my confidence and given me the life skills to succeed.


Since starting work with Sharpak I feel like my life has turned a corner; Im much more positive about the future and I have a better outlook. I now feel like I have a future.


Jacqui adds, Damian has really benefited from the project and is now making great strides at Sharpak and its incredibly rewarding to see his confidence growing. Sharpak work with their employees to get the best for them, as has been the case with Damian, and we are all very proud that he has risen to the challenge.


Andrew Copson, managing director at Sharpak Bridgwater and Yate, comments, Working with the Shaw Trust offers us the opportunity to give a helping hand to people in the local community. We are really glad to have given Damian a step up into employment, and hes proved a valuable asset to Sharpak.


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