THREE people with learning disabilities are giving a helping hand to Christmas shoppers at Watford's John Lewis store.

Brian Charge, 41, from Leavesden, who is autistic, Zak Wilding, 16, from St Albans, and Ray Webster 21, from Borehamwood, both of whom have Asperger's, are packing shopping at the tills and helping customers around the store.

The project, organised by the high street retailer, Hertfordshire County Council's Adult Care Services and Watford charity Mencap hopes to give the trainees an insight into the industry and a chance to learn new skills.

Emma Busby, recruitment and development manager for Watford John Lewis said: "At such a busy time for us it is great to get some support. Ray, Zak and Brian have been fab, really getting into the role and being part of the team.

"Working with Watford Mencap has been a worthwhile and valuable experience for all involved in the project and we do hope to continue this relationship into 2009. Thanks again to Ray, Brian and Zak for their contribution."

Mencap’s director Jane Pattinson said: "We are delighted to work in partnership with John Lewis and the council. People with a learning disability really want to work, and this is helping their dreams become reality."