Employment Futures

Employment Futures exists to help remove barriers to meaningful employment for autistic adults and/or those with learning difficulties.

I had applied for several jobs before – usually in shops, but most of the time they wouldn’t even call me back. Finally finding work was a dream come true.

For 24-year-old Jack Walton, a lack of talent, ambition and a drive to work wasn’t the problem.

The heavy metal fan from Heaton was desperate to begin paid employment so when he was selected for a creative apprenticeship doing admin for museums in Newcastle, he knew may well have stumbled into his dream job.

"I mean I definitely wasn’t thinking, ‘I wish I could work in the Discovery Museum'," Jack said. "But being in a place that I’ve loved since childhood made the whole experience of entering the workforce a lot less daunting.

I wasn’t necessarily aware that I was different but school did become increasingly more and more difficult as I got older. I would go from being in my own little world to never shutting up but it was really the combination of work load and exams that I couldn’t crack. I knew the stuff but couldn’t get it out in exam situations.

"I became really anxious. Maybe even depressed. My dream of being a scientist was gone because I couldn’t achieve the qualifications needed. I still know everything they taught me – it just wouldn’t transfer to exam success.

"I had to go through a bit of a grieving process. Shock, then sadness, then I was annoyed and feeling absolutely dreadful before eventually landing on a kind of woeful acceptance.

Not wanting to be part of the education process at all any more Jack began looking for work.

Jack Walton

He said: "I spent six months unemployed and looking for jobs in shops really, a couple of supermarkets and a music retailer. I would apply and get no answer back. I rang one and they hung up on me.

"I’m glad I kept going because I found this apprenticeship doing community arts admin - and I’ve just had my four years work anniversary!"

Jack is currently part of the team at Culture Bridge North East based in the Discovery Museum. The aim of the organisation is to make sure every child and young person has access to arts and education culture and the benefits it brings.

Elvie Thompson, programme manager at Culture Bridge, added:

Jack had worked elsewhere in the museum but when he joined the team here, and was very open about his autism, I wanted to be as informed as I could be.

I’d never managed anyone with autism before so wanted to do everything I could to ensure both Jack and the team could work effectively together. I had heard about Employment Futures and so got in touch with the North East Autism Society.

Following her initial enquiry the team from EF got in touch and organised to offer in-work support and training for both Jack and Elvie’s team.

"Initially there was a consultation with me, about my role, with a man called Derek from Employment Futures. Then we met together – me and Elvie and Derek," Jack added.

"We talked about general things and Derek had some ideas to help us both, and even offered a staff training session for the whole of the team I worked in. It was then opened up to a few people from various departments.

"I actually loved it. It was really interesting, although quite a lot of it I found amusing. I was laughing, thinking ‘I do that'."

Elvie added:

It was really good experience for us. The training was interesting and engaging and not only helped us as a staff team but impacted on the service we deliver within education and culture sectors. Everyone felt like it helped them.

But none more so than Jack.

Finding a job was the first hurdle. Keeping it was the second. Knowing that there is training and support out there for organisations is fantastic, but the support offered to people like myself, in work, who are maybe not so aware of how to adjust or how to bring their skills to the table… that’s priceless.

Click here for more information on Employment Futures.

Alternatively, call 0191 4109 974.