WHEN colour-blindness brought an early end to Jack Bjork's career prospects as an electrician, the Helston teenager was encouraged to join a programme for the unemployed at The Bishop's Forum Outdoor Activity Centre near Penryn.

Two years on Jack is a quietly confident 18 year old part way through a Truro College Outdoor Education course with his sights set on a university degree in the subject. He has just completed a week's work experience with The Bishop's Forum and has offered himself as a volunteer - to the delight of managers.

"I was really shy when I first came to The Bishop's Forum but my experiences here have made me a much stronger person," he said. "I've learnt so much - it has literally turned my life around."

Jack has no college lectures on a Monday so he has volunteered to work at the centre on that day every week.

"Jack's week of work experience was the first time I had met him," explained the centre's Volunteer Programme Manager, Elle Fletcher. "I was concerned at first because he was so quiet, but he's been responsible, reliable, works independently and is confident to speak up when it's necessary. He's also a competent climber and that is a real asset. I would be very happy to have him as a regular volunteer."

Elle said Jack's commitment, willingness to try anything and enthusiasm make him perfect for the job.

"Lots of people come here thinking The Bishop's Forum is just about outdoor activities but those activities are just a tool in youth development," she said. "Jack's time with us and his subsequent success are great proof of how well this system works."

Jack's journey began when he left Helston Community College with good qualifications and began a degree in electronics. Unfortunately he soon discovered he was red/green colour-blind which meant he couldn't continue with his course.

Connexions, the organisation which provides young people with information and advice, supported him to join an Activity Agreement programme at The Bishop's Forum. Jack found it so inspiring that when the first programme ended he moved on to a Freestyle programme at the centre funded by the Learning and Skills Council. He then enrolled at Truro College to build on the experiences and shape a new career.

"College is great but very classroom based and you don't get the opportunity to deal with people," he said. "I prefer to be outside. Long term I would like to be an instructor in either climbing or kayaking."

"Jack is a great success story for us," said Katherine Ennever, the charity's operations manager. "Our mission is to inspire, challenge and motivate people to develop their life skills and bring about positive change. I think we have definitely achieved that with Jack."