DamienDamien came on our “Decreasing Barriers to Employment through Interaction with Ponies” course in 2014 which was funded by a small European Social Fund (ESF). This was a course we ran for anyone over 19 years of age who was experiencing barriers to learning. The aim of the course was to re-engage these learners by developing confidence and basic skills in a non-threatening equine environment. Damien was nineteen and not doing anything. He had wanted to go to university but could not complete courses he began and so did not have the relevant qualifications needed. Damien came on this course and initially lacked confidence and found it hard to get out of bed in the morning let alone come on a course. He agreed to give it a go and was soon able to identify his issues as being a lack of confidence, difficulty in speaking clearly especially in public and a tendency to over-complicate things. He soon developed more confidence during the sessions and saw that he could in fact take charge of a team task and teach other learners a small task in a clear manner.

After completing the course and successfully gaining two Level 1 qualifications with us we asked Damien what he felt he had gained from the course. He said, “A better understanding of the working world. I have gained a lot of self-confidence, got out of my comfort zone and done things I naturally wouldn’t do.”

Damien told us he would like to go eventually to college to get the qualifications needed for university. Meanwhile he said he was going to try and do a job so that he could earn some money ready for university and also for the experience of work. He had an interview at Rookley Country Park as a kitchen assistant and got the job but it was only for a short period which he completed. He wasn’t put off and he went for an interview at Poundland and was accepted for a job there and has kept the job and as he recently told us “ manages to get up in the morning and appreciates the support we gave him in understanding that by setting himself small steps he could be successful.”