Nine Horizons students (learners with additional learning needs) from Central cooked up a special Christmas lunch for firefighters at Highfields Fire Station on 6 December.
The lunch formed part of a work experience project which began last month and sees students, aged 16 to 24, visit the station once a month to cook for staff.
The scheme was organised by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Chris Emmott after he noticed that there are limited experience schemes for people with learning difficulties, which in turn makes it harder for them to find employment. He said:
All of the work the students are now doing will contribute towards a qualification for them, give them valuable work experience and also make them more confident as people – all of this contributing towards the overarching aim of getting them into employment and helping them to live independently. It's also worth remembering that not only will these students reap the benefits themselves, they will be making a valued contribution to the service and will therefore be contributing to our work in creating a safer Nottinghamshire.- Chris Emmott, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager
College tutor Beth Fisher said the students enjoyed cooking the lunch, which they did a pre-cook for a few weeks ago to ensure everyone knew what their role was. She said:
They all had their roles and they choose what they would like to do. They really enjoy it and I think it is empowering for them. It gives them a great sense of purpose.- Beth Fisher, College tutor
Beth was grateful to the fire station for inviting the students to take part in the work experience scheme.
It breaks down a lot of barriers because I think people do tend to be wary. It was just a really positive experience. The students came away feeling quite empowered and had a real sense of worth from the experience. Some of the learners will hopefully go into the workplace and it is giving them quite good work experience and a taste of what it could be like.- Beth Fisher, College tutor
Beth hopes the initiative will build the students’ confidence and encourage their independence.
The work experience scheme also sees students visit Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s headquarters in Arnold, where they work with the ground maintenance team. Work there includes raking and sweeping leaves, painting fences and building raised beds for vegetables to grow.