ProgressNE is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the North East Combined Authority as the lead authority.

Removing barriers to create a fair, inclusive and accessible community.

Josh Priest is going places after he enrolled on the ProgressNE employability programme earlier this year.

Josh, 20, who is autistic and has ADHD, has been doing travel training with his adviser Alex Hall and his confidence and independence have soared.

Josh joined the scheme because he didn’t have a job after finishing two years at college and a year’s supported internship in a garden centre.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I was struggling,” Josh says. “I was upset and anxious.”

ProgressNE supports social inclusion and wellbeing as well as employability, and Alex began by working with Josh on relaxing and getting his confidence back. 

He supported Josh to start meeting up with friends again and introduced him to a boxing gym in Blyth, Northumberland, where the pair now go once a week so Josh can train.

They also worked together on overcoming Josh’s anxiety around bus travel so he could plan journeys and travel independently. 

Josh, who lives in Widdrington Station in Northumberland, says: “Two months ago I hated buses. I found the unknown really scary, and worried about what to say when I got on and what I would do if there were a lot of people on board.

“Alex and I did journeys together, and now I go on buses by myself all the time. I wear headphones on the journey and I can travel all over the place.

It’s already helped with my self-belief. My confidence has soared and I’m so much more relaxed.

Josh is now keen to start job searching and is looking for work that is practical and active, such as security, construction or horticulture and landscaping.

Alex can’t wait to see where he ends up. The employment adviser says: “I am amazed at Josh’s progress. He didn’t have a lot of self-belief when he joined the programme, and being out of work and education had taken a toll on his mental and social health.

People in his life have commented on how much more relaxed he seems now. Seeing his confidence grow is inspiring and reminds me why I do this job.

“He plans to be in work by Christmas so we are going to look over his CV, brush up his job searching and interview skills and see where he ends up. We already know how he’ll be getting to his job!”

ProgressNE is delivered by the North East Autism Society in partnership with Azure Charitable Enterprises, and is funded by the Government's UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

It provides personalised support to economically inactive people living in Newcastle, Northumberland, and North Tyneside, who are neurodivergent, have learning difficulties or disabilities, or are experiencing poor mental health.

Find out more about ProgressNE