A YOUNG caterer has been given food for thought after overcoming the barriers faced by autism to secure his dream job.

Former Darlington College student Thomas Hoare has accepted a position as kitchen assistant with Broadacres Housing Association, at its extra care housing facility The Orchards, in Brompton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire.

Thomas, 19, of Bedale, who was offered the role after completing his Level 1 catering, Level 2 kitchen and Level 2 pastry qualifications, said: “I love food and always wanted to work in catering.

“The college really helped me with my studies, putting a learning support assistant in place to support me during lessons and help me with the challenges faced by my autism.

“Learning to block out external noises, especially in a kitchen, was difficult at first and I still find it hard to adapt to new places and people but everyone here has been so welcoming and they are really helping me to settle in.”

Thomas, whose job roles include setting tables for residents, preparing drinks, serving food, clearing away, washing up and sweeping and mopping the floors, was assisted in his job search by North Yorkshire County Council Supported Employment Team.

Employment officer with Supported Employment Services Charlotte Rudd said: “Thomas was referred to us as he prepared to leave Darlington College after achieving great results in his catering courses. He felt ready to progress into work so alongside college staff we began helping him seek a role as a kitchen assistant.

“He has been incredibly motivated and hard-working throughout the entire process he now has a one to one job coach to support him through his six-month probationary period to allow him the extra time and support he needs to make the job a success.”

Thomas works 20 hours a week in The Orchards Bistro under the supervision of Broadacres catering manager Mark Rose.

“Thomas’s interview was of the best for a kitchen assistant that I have ever conducted,” said Mark.

“He has settled in very well, we are delighted with his work and looking forward to seeing him develop further. He is a credit to Broadacres.”