John Mitchell was born with learning disabilities and has had to work harder than most to achieve his dreams. His journey towards independent living started when he took part in an initiative to help people with learning disabilities acquire skills needed in day-to-day life.
The Move On programme was created by staff at Rowlands Lodge, a supported housing scheme in Chester for people with learning disabilities run by Muir Group Housing Association, where John was living at the time.
And now the hard work has paid off.
John beat 400 candidates – including university graduates – to the job of kitchen porter at Chester's newest hotel ABode.
Landing the job could be John's first step on the way to fulfilling his ambition of one day managing his own restaurant.
And who better to learn the ropes from then Stuart Collins the Executive Chef at ABode Chester home to Michael Caines restaurant and being able to take inspiration from Michael Caines MBE – a Michelin starred chef – who is the Food and Beverage Director at ABode hotels.
"I work alongside Michael if the chef's on holiday," said John, who lives in Chester. "I would like to work my way up the ladder and become a chef's assistant, and eventually I would love to have my own place with my name above the door."
Move On teaches residents basic skills they would need to live independently, such as how to pay bills or change the bag on a vacuum cleaner.
John, a former pupil at Dee Banks Special School, now lives on his own in a city centre flat, pays all his own bills, cooks his own meals and works 40 hours a week at the hotel.
"Rowlands Lodge gave me the confidence to get my own place. It was always my dream to get my own place, but I never thought I would get here," said John. "I love my job and I have made lots of new friends."
Virginia Young, manager at Rowlands Lodge, said: "The Move On programme enabled John to make decisions about how to run his own life. He will always need ongoing support, but he has come on leaps and bounds and is now a role model for other residents."
Faye Kelly, general manager at ABode, said: "John has a lovely, warm and welcoming demeanour. He is a key member of the kitchen team, extremely reliable and always willing to support all his team members. He is a great asset to our company."
Member since: 10th July 2012
Chester word of mouth specialist, promotes and markets the best businesses in Chester. Passionately supporting local businesses, organisations and events.