Vicki Butler-Henderson, racing driver and presenter on Discovery Channel’s Fifth Gear and BBC’s Top Gear, launched two new local initiatives designed to create training and employment opportunities for people with mental health issues and other disadvantages. The launch event took place on 1st October 2013 at SMaRT garage services, at Unit M on the Acorn Industrial Estate in Crayford. See gallery of photos from the event
Vicki opened SMaRT garage services in Crayford, a new garage, set up by the entrepreneurial charity, First Step Trust (FST). Run as a social enterprise, the garage provides MOT testing, servicing and vehicle repairs to private and corporate customers as well offering opportunities for local people to develop their skills and experience in a commercial environment.
Vicki said: “I am delighted to lend my support to SMaRT. It’s fantastic to see business being used for such positive effect and helping people overcome disadvantage and realize their ambitions. Everyone should be given a chance to succeed.”
Adam, who hasn’t worked for seven years and is undertaking work experience in the garage said: “FST is my first step to getting back out in the world. Before, I didn’t know where I was going. Now I’m building up my confidence and skills and going to college to get qualified. I have a future now and it lies in mechanics.
“The launch was packed and it was great to meet Vicki. I’ve seen her on Fifth Gear and she knows what she’s talking about!”
At the same time, the TV star launched the charity’s Driving Ambition initiative aimed at long-term unemployed young adults. Driving Ambition is an incentive scheme which enables people to gain a full driving licence whilst improving their job prospects through training and work experience.
FST’s CEO, Ronnie Wilson MBE, said: “FST is about giving people the chance to deal with the pressures, responsibilities and obligations of ordinary working life. The vast majority of people coming to us have been excluded from mainstream employment for many years – some have never had the chance to work. We believe business can be a positive vehicle for change. We also want to do our bit to contribute to the local economy by building up trade and using local suppliers wherever possible.”
Vicki was joined by local politicians, including the leader of Bexley Council, Teresa O’Neill and business leaders.
SMaRT garage services, Bexley is offering a £10 MOT to customers when booked before
30 November 2013. To find out more, visit www.smartgarageservices.co.uk
SMaRT stands for ‘Socially Minded and Responsible Trading™’ and conveys FST’s commitment to a high quality service for customers as well as support for the local community.
For more information contact Katie Ryan on 07568581890 or visit www.firststeptrust.org.uk