A partnership between Prior’s Court and a major West Berkshire landowner is providing young people with severe autism hugely beneficial experiences of the world of work – with the Eling Estate management now adding a charitable donation aspect to the mix.

Young people from Prior’s Court began a regular work placement with Eling Estate, which manages land between Beedon, Hampstead Norreys and Newbury, at the start of the school year.

Young people from Prior’s Court visit Eling Estate twice a week, stripping the protective plastic which encases thousands of trees on the estate.

Eling Estate is now giving away the removed tree guards for free to interested parties (as they can be re-used in some circumstances) but is encouraging those who collect them to make a donation to Prior’s Court in exchange.

Julie Davis, one of our Job Coaches who sets up work placement opportunities in the land-based sector, said: “Our students go on regular work placements to develop their skills and prepare them for the world of work – which is vital given the difficulties autistic adults face when looking to gain employment.

“Eling Estate is the perfect place for our young people to work – it is calm and peaceful, and they are very happy working there.

“It is a wonderful gesture by Eling Estate to ask for donations on our behalf.”

Staff at Eling Estate have also found appropriate specialist equipment for our young people to carry out their work placement tasks safely.

David Hill, Estate Manager at Eling Estate, said: “These work placements were the first step in a new direction for the Estate - to work more closely with local schools and communities and whilst this is a new experience for all involved, it works and we hope to develop it further.

“The students have been a pleasure to work with. The support team [at Prior’s Court] have been extremely good at ensuring that the process of engaging students in these placements has been smooth.

“Clearly not every workplace is appropriate, but where possible, offering these placements can be hugely rewarding as an experience and there is real value that can be added by these students.”

There are 12 arrangements in place between Prior’s Court and a broad range of third parties to provide work placements, in addition to on-site placements at the Prior’s Court site (such as with artisan bakery Bread & Beyond).

During the off-site placements, young people work with members of staff from both Prior’s Court and the partner organisation’s staff members.

Organisations wishing to enquire about becoming a work placement partner should call 01635 247202.