WIRRAL Autistic Society has been awarded a Big Lottery grant of £262,602 for its new "Step Into Work" programme.

The scheme will run over five years. Participants will take part in a 24-week course, including a 12-week work placement. The society aims to help 160 people find the type of work they want.

Programme manager Beverley Breen said: "This programme will make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people with autism or Asperger’s and who are out of work.

"The world of work is quite a social experience and this is one of the areas that people with autism and Asperger’s find most difficult to cope with.

"They need specialist help and support to understand things like appropriate conversation and conduct in the work place, and working as part of a team.

"This programme will help them with all of this, as well as providing a real work experience opportunity and then support in finding and keeping the right job."

Meanwhile, the society's garden centre is now open for business seven days a week.

Set in Bromborough Pool Village the new venture is expected to increase business as well as providing real work opportunities for people with autism.

All proceeds will be re-invested in the society to help people with autism.

While many people with autism are very keen to work and are often very good at certain types of work, opportunities are few and far between and unemployment rates are very high, often resulting in increased isolation and depression.

Also on show will be the award winning garden from the Grosvenor Estate which won a Silver Gilt at last year's Royal Horticultural Show at Tatton Hall.

The Duke of Westminster is the Society’s President and donated the garden when the show finished, it is a beautiful addition to the centre.