AN innovative programme which helps young people develop workplace skills is celebrating a number of success stories since it launched earlier this year.

Marlborough-based charity Greatwood was founded in 1993 and focused on rescuing, caring for and rehabilitating former racehorses. And in 2006 the charity developed an educational programme called Horse Power, which educates hundreds of children with special educational needs every year.

In July, Greatwood, based at Rainscombe Hill Farm, Clench Common, also launched Get Going, a programme which offers support to 16 to 24-year-olds who have struggled at school, been in care, are long-term unemployed, or have been in trouble with the law.

This unique scheme offers an intensive British Horseracing Education and Standards Trust (BHE&ST) accredited course and provides a five-day introduction to horses and possibly a career with horses or the horse-racing industry.

The demographic this programme caters for can often be overlooked, but Greatwood proudly say that they have raised the aspirations and confidence of their students and steered them towards a fulfilling career.

One of their most recent success stories is 19-year-old James Paget who took part in Get Going during the summer.

Prior to completing the programme, Mr Paget had been homeless for five years but now has a bright future ahead of him.

Since completing the programme he has gone on to gain further qualifications by enrolling on a course at the Northern Racing College (NRC) and is well on his way to securing full-time employment within the racing industry.

He said: “I was living in a hostel when I met someone that had been to the NRC when my ears pricked up and I thought that may be something I would like to do.

“Through the Princes Trust I went to Greatwood, and through their programme I had the opportunity to apply to go to the NRC on a 12-week residential foundation course.

“My first week was really interesting and liked the fact that they had you doing everything from mucking out to riding within the first week, I’m not so keen on the mucking out but when I rode for the first time it made the mucking out well worth it.

“I’m working hard and getting a placement with a racehorse trainer as I now know it is definitely what I want to do."

Greatwood’s aim is to help children and young adults learn life skills, gain accredited qualifications and, ultimately, help them blossom into independent adults.

Research indicates that a lack of formal qualifications makes it much harder for people to secure full-time employment and at present five per cent of 15-year-olds in England leave school with no qualifications and nearly 25 per cent have fewer than five GCSEs.

Get Going is fully funded, includes free transport and is open to anybody aged between 16-24 who is interested in a career with animals, Students gain a BHE&ST accredited Entry Level Two Award in assisting with basic Care of Horses.

For more information, call (01672) 514 535 or e-mail