Employer Spotlight – Carey’s Secret Garden

External work experience is integral to the continued development and success of our young people in their Preparation for Adulthood (PfA), the and completion of their studies here at EMA. Building strong partnerships with employers is a huge part of this, and it’s always rewarding when we find businesses who can welcome multiple students, display an enthusiastic and supportive attitude to having them as part of their team, and share the vision that we have for our young people.

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We’d like to start highlighting more of these businesses, because without their support, the successful work placements wouldn’t be possible.

Early in 2022, EMA connected with Carey’s Secret Garden in Wareham. A beautiful 3.5 acre space which functions as both a place for diverse community events, and the growing of plants and vegetables. The site is open to members of the public and is becoming increasingly popular as a destination for local residents and visiting tourists.

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Work Experience & Next Steps Coordinator, Simon Chapman, reached out to Carey’s, as the environment perfectly complements what the students at EMA had already been familiar with. This engagement has allowed the students to get meaningful external  work experience, enabling them to meet new people and undertake new responsibilities; they have been able to apply skills learnt at EMA’s Moreton campus which has meant the transition to Carey’s has been comfortable and in no way overwhelming.

The team at Carey’s have been superb. They engage so well with our young people and staff and are happy to adjust the tasks to suit our learner’s capacity. The team are always willing to take the time to support our young people and give them a variety of tasks to keep them motivated and enjoying their placement while at the same time, gently pushing them to achieve more” – Simon

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So far we’ve had 4 students attend work placements at Carey’s Secret Garden, and the benefits have been shining through. Most recently, students Ben and Sam completed their placement, and Dan, the Garden Designer at Carey’s had the following to say:

“Firstly, I’d like to say how impressed I am with the latest students from EMA, Ben and Sam! They have really settled into the garden and are blending really well with the team and volunteers.

Ben has shown great capability of the ‘harder’ jobs in the garden and has impressed Paul our Head Gardener with his enthusiasm for propagation and vegetable growing.

Sam has charmed everyone with his character and is happy to get stuck into various garden tasks! Just recently he helped us weed in our Food Forest and mowed our events lawn space. I’m looking forward to introducing a few tricker tasks for him as he progresses!

It’s been a pleasure having the guys down in the garden working with us and seeing them progress and learn new skills! I hope to think we have made a difference, and continue to make a difference in their learning. It’s something we are very proud to be a part of.”

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One of EMA’s Learning Support Workers, Holly, has been attending sessions with both Ben and Sam, she has some great comments about how they’re getting during a recent day there:

Sam and Ben have both been getting really stuck in! Both have been watering the citrus trees, clearing the vegetable garden beds of horseradish and squash plants. Sam has been making regular trips to the compost and remembering his way around by himself. Ben worked with Mandy to propagate some cuttings they collected from the gardens. Once propagated, Ben watered the cuttings and put them in a heated greenhouse. Brilliant work and attitude shown from both Ben and Sam.

Carey’s Secret Garden is just one of the many fantastic businesses we’re currently working with to provide some real external work experience to our students. It allows them to take those skills they’ve learnt on campus, and put them into practice in a new setting, just like they would with a real job once they move on from EMA; this aspirational approach is a key tenet of the unique individualised study programmes that our students follow during their time with us.

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We’ve had students transition from work experience into paid employment as a result of their placements. It speaks volumes for the attitude and capability of our students, and the willingness of the employers to welcome them in those early days of work experience. If you’d like to discuss partnering with EMA for work experience placements, please do get in touch, as we’d love to hear from you.


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