The Beatles Story welcomes its first Strawberry Field ‘Steps to Work’ trainee

The award-winning ‘The Beatles Story’ is excited to welcome Abbie O’Neal to its guest services team as part of the Salvation Army’s flagship ‘Steps to Work’ programme. 

‘Steps to Work’ is a scheme set up by the Salvation Army, owners of the iconic Strawberry Field site in Liverpool, aimed at giving young adults with learning disabilities the chance to gain skills and experience in the workplace. 

Last year, The Beatles Story pledged its support to the much-anticipated Strawberry Field project, by offering sponsorship and job opportunities for its graduates. 

Abbie, who is 18-years-old and from Tuebrook, is one of the first eight trainees who joined the programme in 2018. In a three-way partnership between The Salvation Army, The City of Liverpool College and local employers, the trainees will now be found work opportunities at participating businesses throughout the City Region. Abbie joins the team working in the Fab4 Cafe, based on Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock. 

Of one million people with learning difficulties in the UK, 93% are unemployed and 31% have no contact with family or friends. ‘Steps to Work’ is a 12 to 18-month programme designed for people (aged 18 to 25 years), with mild to moderate learning difficulties and who do not reach the threshold for additional support from their local authority, to build the skills and knowledge needed for mainstream employment. 

Opportunities on the scheme are varied with roles working in customer services, retail, garden maintenance, business administration and catering amongst those offered by local employers, as well as placements at The Salvation Army’s upcoming new Strawberry Field visitor attraction. 

The new Strawberry Field site, which is currently under construction, will soon become the hub for the ‘Steps to Work’ programme and will provide opportunities for trainees to work across a variety of on-site facilities including the visitor attraction itself, a café, a shop and landscaped gardens. 

The original gates to Strawberry Field, which were in place at the time when John Lennon would climb over the wall of the site, have been on display at The Beatles Story since June 2017, to help raise awareness and much needed funds for the redevelopment project. 

Together with other attractions including The Beatles Story, Cavern Club, Hard Day’s Night Hotel and the Magical Mystery Tour, Strawberry Field will provide an important and significant contribution to Liverpool’s ‘Beatles Economy’, opening for the first time a key site which is currently a drop-off location for significant numbers of Beatles tourists. 

Martin King, Manager at The Beatles Story, said: “I am delighted to welcome Abbie to our team. As a longstanding leader in the City Region’s visitor economy, The Beatles Story is in full support of the ‘Steps to Work’ programme and its aim to bridge employment into this growing industry sector. Everyone in the Beatles Industry is looking forward to the new Strawberry Field Centre opening later in the year, and it is good we can work together in such a positive partnership. I think John would have approved that we are giving such employment opportunities to young people as part of the Beatles’ legacy in Liverpool.”

Lauren Phipps, ‘Steps to Work’ Programme Manager, said: “We believe that everyone should be able to access the right employment support. We are increasingly concerned that many people are disengaged from the support that’s available to them. The Salvation Army is addressing this gap and supporting people not currently being helped by national government programmes back into employment — we’re in a unique position that enables us to take a relational approach and invest more time with job seekers, reaching people who have haven’t been reached by national initiatives.”

To find out more, please visit: beatlesstory.com. 

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