A 21-year-old from Leigh is celebrating his first paid role as a full-time catering assistant, following a supported internship programme with the council.

As students across the borough return to school for the start of the new academic year, Liam Dunn marked the start of his own new chapter after landing the job at Atherton High School.

Taking part in the council run service enabled Liam to gain vital work experience and learn new skills with support from an employment coach.

After impressing during his work trial at Atherton High, he has now been retained full-time for his first job.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, portfolio holder for adult services, said: “Liam’s new job is testament to the hard work and commitment he has shown since he began his journey to employment.

“His motivation, determination and resilience has paid off, enabling him to successfully gain paid employment with the expert help and guidance from the Supported Employment Service.”

Completing catering and hospitality courses at Wigan and Leigh College, Liam started the supported internship and participated in a placement opportunity at Etherstone Day Centre where he worked in the kitchens.

Despite the pandemic interrupting his placement, Liam didn’t let this stop him following his chosen career.

Instead, he re-enrolled at college, attended interview skills courses and was subsequently offered the work trial at Atherton High, arranged by his employment coach.

Liam said: “Without the help of supported employment, I don’t think it would have been so easy for me to get a job.

“I felt very supported by my employment coach, Debra, and without her help I don’t think I would working in a job I really enjoy, alongside people I really like.”

Cllr Cunliffe added: “With the right attitude, hard work and a helping hand from our team, Liam has achieved his goal of gaining employment. He should be very proud of himself.”

The council's Supported Employment Service works in partnership with Wigan and Leigh College, providing specialist job coaching support for students who aspire to bridge the gap from education to employment.

Officers engage with employers and businesses across the borough to successfully place students into the world of work, learning valuable skills to gain real work experience in an employment setting taking on real jobs, real opportunities and learning as they grow.