Living his dream at DK Motorcycles

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A motorcycle enthusiast with a learning disability has secured his dream job, working voluntarily for DK Motorcycles in Newcastle Under-Lyme, Staffordshire after help from his supported living centre.

The Learning Disability Supported Living Service in Staffordshire, run by national charity, Ambient Support, went above and beyond to secure volunteer work for Darren, who turned 50 this year, after discovering his love for all things two-wheeled.

The position was secured by team leader at the service, Melissa Gadd, who 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.

Darren at DK Motorcycles

“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.”

She added: “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 has always loved motorbikes, particularly the Kawasaki Ninja and has met his idol and TT legend John McGuinness.

Darren meets John McGuiness

Matt Cartlidge, mechanic at DK Motorcycles, said: “Darren helps with a lot of jobs in the workshop, such as cleaning various bike parts ready for reselling. Occasionally, he goes around the main display room and polishes the bikes that are for sale. I enjoy teaching him about what the various parts of engines do.

“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.”

Darren at work at DK Motorcycles

The placement is part of the Ambient Support’s person-centred approach that listens to the people they support and aims to give them more responsibility to encourage independence and boost confidence.

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.”

To learn more about Ambient visit their website.