A CARE service in Neston is helping a football fan with learning issues to lose weight to boost his self-esteem.

Ben Harling, 29, who has Down’s syndrome and lives at Manor Barn supported living service, is being taught how to cook healthy food and exercise more.

And his efforts are already paying off as staff say he is steadily losing the pounds and hopes to hit his target weight by the spring.

Manor Barn is run by the Regard Group, the UK’s fourth biggest private provider of supported living and specialist residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury.

Senior support worker Stuart Thompson said: “Ben really likes his food but struggles to understand the importance of healthy eating.

“We are supporting him to improve his cooking skills as a way of teaching him about nutrition and he’s really taking everything on board.

“We are helping him identify the different food groups, how to use less fat by baking or grilling, and how to select foods that make you feel fuller for longer.

“Being overweight really affects Ben’s self-esteem. He loves football and would really like to be sportier and not feel so self-conscious.”

The Manor Barn support team believe the best way to approach Ben’s weight-loss ambition is to reinforce his achievements through praise.

He is weighed every Friday at Neston day centre where his progress is tracked as he loses the pounds and edges towards his goal.

Liverpool supporter Ben moved to the service in 2015 from the family home in Chester and has settled down well.

He recently raised money for the local lifeboat service running a tombola stall and has won a number of medals for his sports activities, including football and swimming.

Ben’s long-term aim is to work in a shop. Support staff are currently trying to secure a volunteering position in a local charity shop as a stepping-stone to help him achieve this goal.

Manor Barn caters for adults with enduring mental health needs or learning difficulties, Asperger’s, autism and acquired brain injury, providing a home for up to seven people, including two self-contained flats surrounded by spacious grounds.

The service offers a chance for individuals from Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merseyside, Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester to live independent lives, while at the same time having access to the relevant level of support they need.