A JOHNSTONE man who completed a revolutionary training programme for people with disabilities has been given the royal seal of approval. 

In 2016, Colin McKenzie became the first graduate of the DFN charity’s Project SEARCH Renfrewshire and his efforts were rewarded with an invite to the Queen’s Garden Party in Edinburgh this year. 

After passing the course with flying colours the 21-year-old has now secured full-time employment with Renfrewshire Council as a cleaner.

He said: “I enjoyed my placements as part of DFN Project SEARCH and I am still here now as a result. Every day is different, and I really look forward to coming into work every single day.

“I get my tasks for the day and I get to work. At lunchtime I do my rubbish run which is my favourite.

“I have learned a great deal along the way, and I have noticed a real difference in myself. 

“Most notably, I have learned how to ask for help when I am struggling with things, and I have a great support network around me.

“It is great to have a job that I enjoy doing. I have gained more confidence and I’ve come out of my shell – and now talk a lot more.”

DFN Project SEARCH is an international training programme aimed at supporting young people with learning disabilities into paid employment. 

The scheme now has more than 60 local partnerships in the UK, with more than 1,000 young people with learning disabilities being supported into work.

Lynne Tervit, facilities co-ordinator at Renfrewshire House, said: “When people see young adults with learning disabilities, they don’t always appreciate how capable they are.

“I didn’t have any experience of working with young people with a learning disability but it has been a hugely rewarding experience for me to work with Colin.”

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