Blackthorn Trust

The Blackthorn Trust is an established charity offering transition, training and rehabilitation through Blackthorn Garden’s social enterprise workshops, a return to work programme and specialist therapies. They support individuals with mental health issues and often experiencing additional problems, such as unemployment, benefit, risk of homelessness and isolation from their families and previous social circle. They want to use our support to help manage their condition and integrate back into the community. Poor diet is often an issue, resulting in conditions like diabetes or heart disease. 

Typically individuals attend Blackthorn twice a week for 6-9 months to prepare their next step; which could be work, volunteering, support from another charity or moving into independent accommodation. 

Highlights from their ongoing evaluation shows an increase in self-confidence and the ability to manage symptoms. Whilst most participants report soft outcomes such as improved social engagement, improved relationships and better control of their finances, 42% of progressed onto either paid employment, a voluntary position or education.

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David started at Blackthorn a few months ago after a bad spell of negative experience trying to find paid employment. Diagnosed with autism, David had been struggling with confidence and had resigned to apply for volunteering positions only, thinking he would never be able to interest an employer. David was very shy at first, not making eye contact and showing very little initiative. He would not talk to anyone and found being in groups very challenging. He started in the training kitchen, learning to prepare nutritious meals from scratch, cooking on a budget with various methods, using fresh produce form the garden. This has enabled David to build a positive relationship with the café Chef, Andrew and in turn to grow interest in preparing and presenting food. 

After completing his course, David moved to the café and main kitchen to continue developing catering and generic work skills such as working in a team, under pressure and serving the public. David is now constantly experimenting with food, bringing in dishes and recipes he has tried at home and sharing with the rest of us at Blackthorn. The café Chef has asked for his help for Blackthorn’s events on a few occasions and David has risen to the challenge with confidence. 

Feeling confident in his own skills, David is now completing his City & Guild catering qualifications onsite with the Sunlight Development Trust and is having 1 to 1 sessions with Workways. He is currently applying for paid employment.