Daniel Panter, 33, is a Gardener at Pixieland Nurseries in Plymouth.
Dan’s journey into paid work has not been an easy one. He has always loved being outside and had taken on many gardening placements in the hope of being given a break. However, despite his hard work and commitment, none of these openings resulted in paid work.
Not to be down-hearted, Dan continued to look for work, embracing new opportunities with enthusiasm and a smile on his face. An opportunity became available at Pixieland and after a one day work trial, they offered him the job at their three sites in Stoke, Mannamead (Plymouth) and Saltash.
Dan is now extremely happy and takes great pride in his job. He has also achieved an Award in Horticulture level 1 (National Open College Network).
Dan has a learning disability.
“I clean the car park, tidy leaves, weed, brush up the sand that comes from the sandpit when the children have been playing - sand, sand and more sand! I always have a look around and see what needs doing. I am hoping to mow the lawns soon.
“I enjoy everything but I like weeding and doing the leaves best. It looks tidy and I feel good. I am also very good at sweeping up – other people tell me that.
“This is my first paid job ever and I feel I have achieved. Having money is good - it’s in the bank as I am saving it for my holiday to Portugal. They have said that I am the best gardener they have ever had and I feel very happy when they say that to me.
“I always wanted to do gardening and am much happier now I am doing what I want to do. When I got my first wage slip I wanted to show everyone.
“I get on well with the other staff; Karen and Zoe, they’re good. The children are fun too. I also have a job coach who shows me what to do and helps me learn new jobs. My job coach can see how I am doing and it is good to know he is there”.
Leanne James, Manager, Pixieland Nurseries (Stoke)
“Dan is really good at everything. It is really important to us as a business to have our grounds looking clean and tidy as it is the first thing you see when you visit. Our gardens have never looked so good; he is the best gardener we have ever had!
“Dan is lovely. He was really shy when he first came here and wouldn’t speak to anyone. Yet, each week he has become more confident and is now really coming out of his shell. He has really changed and is like a different person. He gets on brilliantly with colleagues. He is reliable with good time-keeping too; in fact it can be difficult to get him to leave on time as he always wants to do the next job!
“Pluss have worked closely with us throughout. Dan has a job coach (from Pluss) that helps him with his job and they have a really good relationship. It’s a nice team.”
Karen Hallett, Deputy Manager, Pixieland Nurseries (Saltash)
“Daniel is a real people-pleaser. He is always happy to do whatever is asked of him and does a thorough job. He was a little shy to start with but he has got used to us now and his confidence has really developed.
“We have a list with his general jobs on that need doing, and his work has got better and better as he has got more familiar with the job.“
After approaching Pixieland, Pluss supported Dan with the initial interview process; this included completing all paperwork, applications forms, DBS police checks and risk assessments. We supported Dan to inform DWP about his benefits and employment. We also liaised with ‘Access to Work’ to ensure Dan has funding towards long term job-coach support.
Dan’s job coach helps him to break down his duties, prioritise his workload and manage his time effectively. The aim is to help Dan build up his confidence and initiative so he can take full ownership of the role.