Gateway to Living and Work

Students re-planting seedlings

An innovative programme for young adults with additional needs to enable further independence and living skills within an accredited framework.

Who is the Gateway Programme for?

The Gateway Programme is aimed at young adults who have the potential to increase their independence levels as well as move into an area of employment. A bespoke programme will be based upon a work and living skills plan which may involve woodland, gardening, horticulture, farming, retail, catering as well as basic living skills. We know, from our own research as well as independent academics, that these activities have a positive effect on cognitive functioning and mental health and therefore the programme also appeals to many young individuals who wish to re-engage with the community through vocational opportunities.

The Gateway Programme is a work and living skills programme. The foundation of the programme is to ensure the understanding of the need of self-management in daily routine as well as contributing to society at large. The programme is both bespoke to the individual as well as matching needs with collaboration projects in work and training offering quality experiences and, in some cases, qualifications.

There are three main components of the Gateway Programme which we believe replicate and prepare our young adults for a meaningful lifestyle within the community by developing key transferable skills.

Residential student laying the table



Social Enterprise

Starting with the community of the household, young people learn important social skills including home making, budgeting, maintenance, personal hygiene and travel training. These skills are transferable to the wider society in which our young adult are encouraged to participate as part of their leisure activity. An integral part of any community is the annual calendar of festivals which gives all of us an understanding of the seasonal rhythm and nature’s impact on the household. The festivals provide an opportunity to celebrate embracing the impact on the self while helping young adults to re-engage with the wider community. The unique opportunity to interact with the community on-site in a range of supported vocational and commercial activities provide the young person with a sense of identity, purpose and motivation. Young adults can work within our cafés and bakeries enhancing their skills such as menu planning and food preparation, customer service, communication as well as handling money.

Others may choose to work on land based activities such as the farm and landscape gardening gaining a technical understanding of animal husbandry and horticulture. Ruskin Mill Trust has a diverse offering of social enterprises and you can see the current list of activities elsewhere on our website.

Each young adult will work to agreed outcomes which can be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. Examples of such outcomes will be work readiness, communication and expressive language, community inclusion and managing health and well-being.

Duration of Programme

The length of the programme will be guided by the young person’s own rate of progression towards independence in both living skills and work. In most cases this will be between two and five years.

How to apply for the Programme

Our Central Admissions team will guide you through the process from discussing your aspirations, choosing the right provision and consulting with the local funding authority.

Please contact us on 0330 055 2653 or

Benefits of the Programme

Ruskin Mill Trust has commissioned psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman to review the body of evidence supporting the Practical Skills Therapeutic Education method. He found that curricula involving woodland ecology, gardening, horticulture and farming are increasingly found to positively affect cognitive functioning, academic performance, obesity and physical and mental health in young people.

These findings are further supported by a study published in June 2017 by The Wildlife Trust in conjunction with the University of Essex which found that volunteers working outdoors and engaging with nature reported significantly enhanced feelings of positivity, increased general health and pro-environmental behaviour.


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