Autistic volunteer SYFR 180A volunteer at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has gained vital life and social skills thanks to a scheme which helps people with autism.

Jonathon Clarke has been working in the canteen at SYFR Training & Development Centre in Sheffield for two days a week as part of a scheme run by the Autism Centre for Supported Employment, a charity which supports adults with learning disabilities into paid employment and work experience placements.

His role involves preparing meals for the dozens of firefighters, support staff and external partners who use the busy centre every day - one which Jonathon says he "loves", citing feelings of value, respect and teamwork for improving his wellbeing.

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He added: “I like to meet everybody at work and they are very friendly with me. When I prepare the food I enjoy that people like to eat what I make and that everyone is so pleased with me. I enjoy catching the buses and going to work every week and know that I am doing well.”

The favourite parts of his role include interacting with colleagues and firefighters and preparing salads and desserts. As part of the scheme, the 31-year-old also has the opportunity to gain new skills in a 'safe' environment with staff that he trusts and who have the skills and training to understand and support his needs.

SYFR Volunteering Co-ordinator Sue Butler said: "Jonathon has continued to show excellent commitment to his volunteering role and has learned a lot of new skills since starting work with us.

"As well as supporting the smooth running of our busy training centre, we know we are giving him important employment skills which he will be able to transfer to future jobs. The team are really supportive of him, and Jonathon seems to love working with them. We are really proud of Jonathon, he is a credit to the training centre, the Autism Centre and to himself."

Find out more about community projects Services are engaging in in September's FIRE Magazine

Photo: (left to right) Gary Leesley (Catering Services Manager), Maxine Howarth, Jonathon Clarke, Wendy Ford and Maria Rejane De Freitas