From Impossible to "I'm Possible"

Josh is autistic and had long-term struggles with employment and life in general, leaving him unemployed, and feeling anxious and defeated. Joining Positive Path Foundation and landing the leading role in an award-winning film turned his life around. With new-found confidence and the support of PPF / Minstead Trust Employability Scheme, Josh landed a theatre job and now has an exciting future full of possibilities. 

Positive Path Foundation (PPF) is a charity dedicated to supporting young people and adults with high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and other physical and learning challenges.

 

The key feature of these disabilities is that they are hidden. Many of PPF’s members are very able individuals, but their disability and its impact on their communication skills, mental health and confidence creates barriers in many everyday settings. This is particularly true when it comes to finding long-term salaried employment.

 

 

Unemployment has been a constant feature of Josh’s adult life. After years of failures and rejections, finding a paying job and having a “reason to get out of bed in the morning” seemed impossible. Josh is an intelligent and articulate individual who, due to his autism, has few qualifications gained from school.

 

However, his greatest barrier to employment is hidden: disabling anxiety and low self-esteem. When he has been lucky enough to get a job interview, it is an overwhelming and anxious experience that never goes well. He describes the process as “daunting and stacked against me”.  

Josh Ward, Positive Pathways Foundation

Joining Positive Path Foundation proved to be a pivotal moment for Josh at a time when he felt most anxious and defeated. A regular feature of PPF’s constantly changing programme of events, activities and workshops is the Drama Workshop and annual Theatrical Production. Josh
became a regular participant in the workshops, where his acting ability and passion for performing arts was soon obvious, landing him the leading role in “Aladdin”.

 

With new and growing confidence, reinforced by regular encouragement from the PPF team, Josh auditioned for a short film, which he had seen advertised. PPF provided the encouragement and emotional support Josh needed, along with advice on coping strategies in stressful interview / audition scenarios. Josh successfully passed his audition and won the leading role in the award-winning short film “Snapshot”.

This encouragement and success gave a much-needed boost to Josh’s low self-esteem and confidence. In 2023 he asked if PPF could help him find a job, preferably in or around the world of performing arts. With help and support from the Positive Path Foundation and Minstead Trust, Josh applied for, and successfully secured, a part-time salaried job at a a major regional arts centre and theatre in the area. PPF helped Josh complete his job application, gave him strategies to cope with the interview process and continues to provide strategies to help him manage day to day Landing the role felt like an absolute win for me during a time of deep uncertainty and fear.

 

“When I joined Positive Path Foundation, I had hit rock bottom and my confidence was at an all-time low because of endless job rejections and blows to my self-esteem. “I’ve had my fair share of struggles with employment. I think “Snapshot” carries a powerful and important message of hope to the neurodiverse community, that there is hope in situations where finding employment seems impossible. Positive Path has transformed my life and for that I’m eternally grateful. It’s given me a stage and a platform to truly be myself. Jane or Shelley are always there for me at the end of the phone if I ever need a chat or some advice. I feel excited about the future because with the help of the charity I know I can achieve things that I never thought would be possible.”

Positive Path / The Minstead Trust Employability Scheme


In late 2022, Minstead Trust heard about PPF’s recently launched Supported Work Placement Scheme and approached the team with a partnership proposal. Minstead Trust runs existing Employability Programmes, for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

 

Long-term unemployment is very much the norm in autistic adults, even for more able, high-functioning individuals. As Josh’s story demonstrates, the prospect of job opportunities and a route to paid permanent employment are hugely beneficial to the social inclusion, mental health and well-being of scheme participants.