West of England Works Programme Helps Man Exhibit Art

Team North Somerset, a partner of West of England Works, has been helping a local man exhibit his artwork at a local café.

The West of England Works project is a partnership which aims to help unemployed people in the West find employment.

Led by Weston College, the partnership includes a range of voluntary and community organisation across the West. The project is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme, and has received £6 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

Joe Bourgourd, 31, is on the Autistic Spectrum and has Asperger’s Syndrome. Since leaving university with a First Class BA (Hons) degree in Illustration, a fantastic achievement in itself, Joe had little direction until his housing provider referred him to Team North Somerset.

Since beginning work with Team North Somerset on the West of England Works programme in January, Joe is on his way to becoming self-employed. The programme has helped him to find some direction and is continuing to help him develop on his journey.

Through the programme, Joe has been introduced to Loves Café, a local business which regularly allows artists to exhibit their work.

Joe said: “Due to my Asperger’s, it takes me a while to get to know new people and relax around them. Working with my job coach, Wendy, on the West of England Works programme has really helped to build my confidence. She has encouraged me to believe in myself and my own skills.

“Wendy helped me to have my own art exhibition and Team North Somerset arranged for the Mercury to meet me and they did an article on my work in the newspaper. Wendy has also helped me to sign up to a start a small business.”

Joe creates pictures which help him to communicate what he sees in the world around him. He has produced a range of pictures from his travels and also has a showing some of the most iconic local scenes including the beach, Birnbeck Pier, Weston Pier and Weston Bay.

Sue Estcourt, Operations Manager for Team North Somerset, said: “Joe has faced many challenges and so is worthy of recognition of his determination and amazing talent.

“We are so pleased to have been able to help him this far, and are excited to continue to support Joe on his journey to becoming self-employed.”

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