Emmerdale Farm Shop’s support of apprentice Thomas is SENDsational

Thomas serving a customer at Emmerdale Farm Shop

Thomas serving a customer at Emmerdale Farm Shop - Credit: Archant

Emmerdale Farm Shop, near Yoxford in Suffolk, is a haven for lovers of quality food – both with loyal locals and holiday makers.

Thomas with the team at Emmerdale Farm Shop

Thomas with the team at Emmerdale Farm Shop - Credit: Archant

It is also a SENDsational employer providing opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to get a start on the employment ladder.

The business, which one of the retail outlets owned by Bramfield Meats, has employed 17-year-old Thomas Hayes as a butchery apprentice. Thomas, who suffered from severe anxiety attacks, was volunteering on a local farm when he met Jeremy Thickett, co-owner of Emmerdale Farm Shop.

Jeremy was impressed with Thomas’ attitude to work and when he discovered that Thomas was looking for employment, Jeremy offered him the chance to work for his company. After an initial work experience trial, Thomas was offered the opportunity to take up a butchery apprenticeship.

Thomas’s anxiety issues and lack of confidence had meant that he had struggled to fit into a busy college environment, but working in the shop with the support of an individual assessor suited Thomas much better.

Thomas with Emmerdale Farm Shop butchery manager Steve Notley

Thomas with Emmerdale Farm Shop butchery manager Steve Notley - Credit: Archant

Butchery manager at Emmerdale Farm Shop, Steve Notley, says his new member of staff has quickly become a valuable member of staff.

He said: “Thomas is incredibly hard working - he’s often the first person here and last to leave.

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“The butchery shop is really busy and he’s coping really well with the pressure of work. He also gets on well with the other members of staff here”.

Thomas is enjoying the work and learning all about the trade – something he had never considered when he was at school.

And whilst he lacked confidence to start with, he now enjoys talking to customers as well as the skills he is learning.

“I have more confidence – not only at work, but also socially,” he said. “I’m earning money and able to see a real future for myself”.

Thomas and Emmerdale Farm Shop are also helping reduce the skills shortage in the butchery trade, which is struggling to attract enough young people into the sector. Employing apprentices and tapping into the pool of young people with SEND could be one solution.

Contact sendsational@suffolk.gov.uk for more about employing SENDsational young people as apprentices.