At 21-years-old Laura Spence, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has landed her first salaried job and she puts her success down to the support she has had from both her parents and Daisy Chain.
Laura came to Daisy Chain four years ago as a volunteer caring for the animals in the barn on the charity’s farm at Norton. She went on to join the adult social club and complete the employability course – plus she also volunteers in the Daisy Chain Superstore coffee shop.
All these combined experiences, she says, have given her the social skills she needs – and now she is delighted to have joined the cleaning staff at The Black Bull in Yarm as a part-time member of staff.
“I joined the adult social group when I turned 18 and it has been excellent in improving my social skills, I can socialise now and enjoy it. It’s been great getting to know everyone, we have a lot of fun. It feels comfortable knowing everyone in the group has the same thing as me. I used to have trouble starting a conversation with people I didn’t know, I would even be too shy to talk to other volunteers but I am much better now that I socialise regularly with people around my own age.”
As part of the adult social group, Laura has attended the group activities off-site in mainstream environments, “I’ve really enjoyed the chance to get out and about, going to the pub, playing games, learning to play snooker and we visited Jump360. It helps you to get used to being in different environments and learning to cope, gaining new skills all the time, it’s really made a difference to my communications skills,” Laura explains.
Laura believes her new skills have helped her communicate better with the families who visit the Daisy Chain barn when she is undertaking her volunteering role there, “I feel much more able to talk to people with confidence,” she smiles.
Diagnosed when she was ten-years-old, Laura has struggled hard to overcome social difficulties over the years and still needs some support with job applications and interviews which is why her current success means so much to her.
Each week, Laura also volunteers in the coffee shop in the Daisy Chain Superstore at Portrack in Stockton taking orders from customers and helping prepare food and drinks to serve.
“It’s all been great experience which helped me have the confidence when I went to the interview for the job at The Black Bull. I managed to answer all the interview questions and I was really chuffed when they told me I had got the job. It’s hard work but I enjoy it and it’s worth it. I am getting on well with the other staff and the managers.”
Laura would also like to work in animal care in the future which is what she has studied. In the meantime, she is dedicated to saving her salary to take driving lessons and eventually get a car to increase her independence.
“I want to be able to drive and it feels great to be able to earn my own money to pay for it,” she beams.