School children in Northamptonshire with special needs are now being supported by Teamwork Trust – thanks to Children in Need funding.

Teamwork Trust, whose members are individuals aged 18 and above with mental health needs, learning and physical disabilities, has recently recruited former teacher John Akers into a new Transitions Officer post. This is a position funded by Children in Need.

John, who joined the charity in October, will now work closely with local schools, helping to identify and then support pupils in years nine to 13 who are keen to plan for life after school.

John, whose new role sees him working with schools as well as colleges in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, explained: “For youngsters with special needs leaving school can be an especially daunting time. Schools are structured, often set up to support the whole family and suddenly that changes. Youngsters find themselves out in the big, wide world and it can be a scary time for everyone involved, but it doesn’t need to be.

“Teamwork Trust is a charity that is here to help at that crucial time, offering a programme of enabling and education projects and activities and supporting people through this transition period.”

John is now visiting schools, meeting with pupils and their families, offering taster sessions at the charity’s Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough centres and planning short and longer term work experience placements that will provide pupils with employability skills and preparation for the work place.

At the heart of the charity’s enabling programme is a factory floor at each of the three centres, where members get vocational experience – assembling, packing, sticking, stuffing and labelling.

John explained: “Pupils from special schools are already able to come and spend time here, where they can get real life vocational experience, make new friends, access education and employment experience and get valuable preparation ahead of leaving school.”

Victoria Bell, Head of Learning at Teamwork Trust, said: “We are very grateful to the generosity of Children in Need. Thanks to this national pot of funding we are able to make a real difference on a local level. Not only are we a recipient of Children in Need, we are also fundraising at all our centres, with members across the county getting into the charity mood, dressing up, holding raffles, and organising fun challenges to raise valuable funds.”