Ryan's Story


When Ryan, 22 from Rochdale, first joined Greater Manchester Talent Match in July 2014, he was lacking in confidence and had absolutely no work experience. Ryan is also on the autistic scale and had struggled in the past to communicate his needs.

Ryan has been on a massive journey during his time on the programme, including a number of positive work experiences, volunteering and even a trip to Bulgaria.

Sam Powers, Ryan’s Talent Coach from Groundwork said, “I think that Ryan’s main achievement on the program has been his willingness to change his focus and direction in order to gain employment.”

When Ryan first joined the programme, he had only been living in Rochdale for a few years having moved to the area from Cambridge after leaving school. He did not have many friends in the area and had been struggling to find work as he had no work experience or employability skills. He was unsure who to ask for help and as both his parents were also new to the area and not very well themselves he didn't feel that he was getting anywhere fast.

Ryan knew that he would like to work in catering, he had done some basic skills courses and entry level qualifications through Hopwood Hall and thought that it would be the right fit for him.

Ryan at 4Lunch

After spending some time with Sam, Ryan decided the first thing he was going to do was to join Groundwork's Skills for Jobs Employability course followed by a food hygiene certificate and first aid at work course to increase his qualifications. Following this, Ryan felt confident in his skills to begin volunteering.

At first he volunteered at Chronicles Café in Rochdale to increase his work experience. Following this, he enrolled at Bolton YMCA Learning Café where he worked with a team of other young people to create menus and provide meals. Whilst there he also signed up to go to Bulgaria on a volunteering trip to help refurbish a school.

Ryan reflects on his time volunteering in Bulgaria, “We went to Bulgaria to renovate an orphanage and see what culture what they had, see how they live and help them. We learnt a bit of their language and we spoke to the kids in their language. It was fantastic. I wanted to do this because I wanted to give something back to them that they didn’t have.

After completing his time at the Learning Café and volunteering in Bulgaria, Sam worked with Ryan to gain work experience at Manchester University's Central Production Unit where he learned to create large bulk order of food for distribution to the various cafés and restaurants around the University's campus.

Staff at Manchester University liked having him so much they asked him back for a further two week placement.

After all this work experience Ryan felt more confident sending applications for jobs and going for interviews and as a result gained employment working for a textile merchant in Rochdale last year. He stayed there for four months and would have continued but unfortunately a back injury meant that he could no longer work there and he was told by his doctor that he could only perform light duties while he mended.

Still keen to continue working, Ryan enrolled in Bury Adult Learning so that he could improve his functional skills in Maths and English and also wanted to see if there were any further work experience placements he could do while limited with his injury.

Sam contacted the Greater Manchester Talent Match team at Business in the Community to look for a catering opportunity for Ryan and was put in touch with Amy at 4Lunch.

Ryan had a fantastic time setting up, preparing food and serving customers in the busy environment of Bridgeford Street in Manchester and hopes to do some more work experience with Amy in the Future.

He said, “I enjoyed the whole experience because I got to cook for people who were waiting for the food. I got to handle money, prepare food and meet new people. When the food is done, they try the food and have a smile – that’s when I’ve done a good job.”

Ryan said of his experience volunteering, “Volunteering has help me get closer to employment because I have had so many work experience and all the volunteering I have had and got all my new qualifications. It has changed my life and I’ve got more confidence in myself.”

Ryan at 4lunchRyan is motivated to succeed and believes that he is capable of anything. He has improved his employability and skills set and hopes to return to work full time after he is fully recovered.

Sam Powers, Ryan’s Talent Coach said, “Ryan has been a fantastic participant of the Talent Match Program. He is keen to try anything new, has a marvellous 'can do' attitude and is an excellent representative of young people in the area who just want to work. I am proud to be his Talent Coach.”

On whether he would recommend volunteering to other people, Ryan said, “I would tell them to volunteer because they will get the opportunity to get new skills, get more qualifications and you will get more confidence in yourself. You will be happier in the long run and you will met new people and make good friends.”

Read more stories from people involved in Greater Manchester Talent Match by clicking here.