Steps to Work programme


Trainees in front of Strawberry Field gates

The Steps to Work programme at Strawberry Field is a 12 to 18 month scheme that offers young adults with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment the opportunity to gain skills and work experience. Steps to Work consists of an 8 week work readiness course, followed by 3 different 3 month work placements. These placements include 2 days per week of vocational training and 2 days per week in a work environment to move young people into employment or meaningful volunteering. The first cohort of eight trainees joined the programme on 15th October 2018 to begin their journey into work.

We have collaborated with The City of Liverpool College to design a programme that gives young adults with learning disabilities the greatest chance to find employment, which is suited to them and their individual talents, skills and abilities. Together we have consulted local schools, commissioners and industries in the Liverpool City region to tailor the programme to ensure that each trainee receives life skills and work experience to equip them to succeed and fulfil their ambitions in life and employment.

The trainees will be based at our Strawberry Field training hub in the centre of the historic grounds where John Lennon played as a child. The structured programme comprises classroom-based life skills learning, specialised sector training and work experience giving trainees the opportunity to develop their employability and prepare themselve to look for paid employment.

Opportunities are limited for many people with learning disabilities. Nationally, only between 6% and 7% of working age adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment. Steps to Work will broach these obstacles for every young person we work with for them to reach their full potential.


The two days of education will focus on life empowering skills such as: 

  • Literacy 
  • Numeracy 
  • IT
  • Independent travel
  • Teamwork 
  • Time and money management
  • Communication
  • Music, drama, art and craft

Trainees will have the choice of studying a recognised vocational qualification that interests them and which employers value. Trainees who complete the educational stage of the programme will become graduates of The City of Liverpool College and of the Strawberry Field centre.


Each of our trainees will receive two days in a work placement either at the Strawberry Field site, other Salvation Army centres, or out in businesses in the wider Liverpool and Merseyside areas. Through these work placements, and mentoring from experts, each trainee will be more equipped to go out into the world of work.

The possible sectors they could work in range from:

  • Catering
  • Retail
  • Customer service  
  • Hospitality 
  • Horticulture 

Many young people with learning disabilities find it difficult to gain the training and support they need to move into employment. This makes it fundamental for each young person to receive practical experience to apply their skills to, and build their CVs, in order to move into future employment. 

At the end of the Steps to Work programme, each young person will have developed their confidence, independence and other life skills as well as having the vocational experience to empower them into work.


"It’s a wonderful idea that The Salvation Army is going to cultivate youngsters in the precious soil of Strawberry Field."

Julia Baird, Honorary President