A TEENAGER who has language and communication difficulties is being given a helping hand to prepare for full-time employment.

Adam Graham is in the second year of a supported internship programme organised by Dove House School Academy’s Post 16 provision team and has been working with Festival Place’s Customer Lounge team.

As part of a partnership between the shopping centre and Dove House, the 18-year-old has been able to study and prepare for employment and life once he has finished the programme.

The study programmes are carefully tailored to each individual to give them the skills and support they need to achieve in the workplace – with the aim of being taken into employment by the final term of the internship programme.

Adam said: “I was very nervous at first, but it was much better than I thought. People were very friendly.

“It has boosted my confidence and I find it much easier to speak to customers now – it’s my favourite part of the job.

“Dove House and Festival Place have completely changed my life, from making me more confident, to the way I am with people.

“I have made lots of friends, and I am very happy. I know my family are really pleased and they are proud of me, too.”

Hannah Stroud, assistant headteacher at Dove House and head of Post 16, added: “Social isolation and unemployment are not uncommon among young people and adults with special educational needs.

“Adam started at Dove House School when he was 11 and has moved right through into Post 16. Our aim is to transfer him into work through the two-year internship, and it will be amazing to have supported him all the way along that journey.

“Since he started at Festival Place, we have seen a huge difference in Adam – particularly with his confidence. He is a totally different person.”

Festival Place customer services manager Sonya Elliott has been supervising Adam in his customer lounge role.

She said: “I can hardly visualise the shy boy he was when he first started when I see the confident young man he is now; he is amazing.

“To start with he couldn’t stop shaking and he stuttered quite a bit. But I always tell him to be loud and proud because of how well he’s done. He will say hello to anybody, and he always has a smile.”