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Motorbike enthusiast with a learning disability finds volunteer work at mechanics

A team leader at a learning disability supported living service in Staffordshire run by national charity, Ambient Support, has helped secure volunteer work for Darren, an individual with a learning disability, at local mechanics. 

Darren has always loved motorbikes. His favourite bike is a Kawasaki Ninja and he’s even met his idol, John McGuiness a Tourist Trophy races (TT) rider. 

When Darren first moved to the supported living service in Staffordshire, his Team Leader, Melissa Gadd, was keen to understand his likes and interests. She said: “I discovered that Darren has a real passion for motorbikes and mechanics so I spoke to the local mechanics garage, DK Motorcycles, and asked if it was possible for Darren to trial voluntary work for one day a week. They agreed and Darren has now been volunteering at DK Motorcycles for two and a half years and is absolutely thriving in the workplace environment. Darren is not paid but he is a willing and enthusiastic volunteer which gives him flexibility and suits his personal needs.

“He has built a good working relationship with his manager and helps him to strip bike parts and place them onto the internet to sell. He also enjoys the comradery and sits and has lunch in the canteen. His confidence has grown considerably and he looks visibly happy when he returns at the end of his working day.”

Darren said: “Working at DK Motorcycles is really fun. I enjoy working with Matt and he has become a good friend. He has shown me how to use tools and strip and clean bike parts. When I go to work, I like to look at the race bikes. There are about a thousand bikes in the showroom and it is amazing.”

Matt Cartlidge, Mechanic at DK Motorcycles, commented: "I think it's good for Darren to interact with the other mechanics in the workshop, it’s given him a good sense of routine and independence. I believe it's positive for his mental health and working here has boosted Darren’s confidence. I also think it encourages the wider team to be more understanding and accepting of people with a learning disability and helps to encourage engagement. We really enjoy seeing Darren each week." 

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