WIRRAL Autistic Society has won a prestigious national award for a project helping clients get ready for the world of work.

Its Step into Work Plus programme competed with charities from across the UK for the Independent Specialist Care Award, 2014 (Autism Spectrum Services Category).

Funded by the National Lottery, the 24-week scheme includes numerous workshops and field trips, where students get the chance to practice social skills.

It not only helps people with Asperger Syndrome get ready for work, but also helps employers recognise that they can be capable, dependable members of staff.

A quarter of students have had two or three placements, and to date six remain as volunteers. Eleven have accepted permanent paid roles.

Employers involved with the programme include Tranmere Rovers FC, Wirral Council, Caldy Cleaning and the Light Cinema in New Brighton.

It received its award from former Conservative minister turned TV presenter during a black-tie event in London.

Programme manager Beverley Breen said: "The judges stated how difficult it had been to choose the winner and we are delighted that our programme was chosen.

"I feel so proud of what our small team has achieved. There are only two of us and we set up this programme from nothing with no telephone or furniture, just our Big Lottery grant.

"This has been a labour of love and to be recognised nationally is fantastic. Our real success is our students and without their hard work we wouldn’t be looking good at all.”