Life skills lessons for teens

Thomas Roberts brews up
Thomas Roberts brews up
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A WIGAN teenager who often reached boiling point at school wants struggling students to take a leaf out of his book – and learn to look after themselves.

Thomas Roberts is one of the first students to complete a scheme run by tutors from the Rathbone charity and based at the ACE Education Centre in Hindley which teaches young people skills such as how to make tea and cook.

And this diet of practical hands-on learning in small classes has given the 16 year-old all the ingredients he needed to build up his confidence and succeed.

Tom, who lives in Norley, said: “School was alright but sometimes it got really stressful. There were 32 other kids in my class but at ACE there’s only three. Life is much easier now!” On the City & Guilds Introduction to Catering course, Thomas learned everything from what vegan and vegetarian diets are to how to bake and eat well within a budget.

A recent survey of Greater Manchester students at Rathbone showed that third of teenagers felt tired all the time while over half were already experiencing mental and physical health problems associated with poor diet.

“Some of the young people starting the course don’t know how to turn a cooker or even make tea” said Rathbone Tutor, Shelia Esaeh.

“We teach them basic food hygiene and nutrition in a domestic kitchen, get them to use a liquidiser, steriliser and dish washer and they learn to make their own lunch and then eat it.”

Thomas confesses that before the programme he could just about cook chips, beans and sausages. Now the Italian food lover can rustle-up a lemon drizzle cake or flapjacks!

The cookery lessons are just one strand of a Rathbone programme called Youth Choices which for the last six years has helped troubled high school pupils get back on track.

Their menu of learning includes sessions on Maths, English and ICT. Amongst the succeeding students have been young people from Travellers communities and those who have moved to the area and not been able to secure a place at high school.

About to begin a foundation course at Wigan college, Thomas has become so engaged that his plans stretch way into the future!

He said: “I want to work in IT and get paid good money and I know now that I can cook for my wife – once I find one!”

Based on Princess Street, Rathbone provides plenty of courses for youngsters. Along with Youth Choices, it has the Engaged in Education scheme for 14 to 16-year-olds while Foundation and Apprenticeship programmes help young people in the Wigan and Leigh boroughs become ready for work.

Learn more at, telephone 01942 742000 or e-mail: