I first met Emily and her family in October 2014. Emily lives in South Wales. Emily goes to college 3 days a week and enjoys an active social life; she loves swimming, bowling and shopping with her friends and family.
During our initial meetings Emily explained that she would like to add some work experience to run alongside her college course. Together with Emily, her family and her support workers, we discussed the different jobs she might be interested in and the type of support that she may need.
Emily is a very sociable young lady and very generous with her time. She loves helping people and has a great sense of humour. We looked at all of these strengths and identified a few roles that Emily would consider and enjoy. We also looked at jobs that would benefit from these strengths.
I felt that it was important for Emily to gain some work experience first and I contacted a few local organisations. I approached a large supermarket that Emily and her family visited regularly to enquire about work experience opportunities and discovered they had never hired someone with Down’s syndrome before. They were very keen to know more about the WorkFit project in Wales and requested a training session to learn how they may be able to support a person with Down’s syndrome.
Following the successful training, the management offered to take Emily on a work experience placement for one afternoon a week in their café. Emily took to the work like a fish to water and although she had some initial 1:2:1 support it wasn’t needed for long.
After 7 weeks working as a café assistant, Emily’s confidence was high and she had developed a range of catering and hospitality skills to complement her great customer service abilitiy. Whilst having a meal at a local Frankie and Benny’s restaurant, Emily was approached by the manager, Leanne, to see if she would like to start paid work as part of her team. Leanne had been watching Emily help the staff and could see her potential immediately.
I provided Leanne’s team at Frankie and Benny’s with Down’s syndrome awareness training and gave them techniques to ensure that they helped Emily reach her potential.
The team at Frankie and Benny’s have been incredibly supportive towards Emily and have given her every opportunity to shine. Emily takes great pride in her work which includes working behind the bar preparing customer drinks, clearing and cleaning tables and meeting and greeting customers. Emily’s her favourite job of all is taking customer’s birthday cakes to their table complete with other singing colleagues!
Leanne, the restaurant manager, says: “The training was great. We learned a great deal about Down’s syndrome and how best we could support Emily in the restaurant. We are always looking for good quality staff who want to work and Emily is great with the customers. Emily is a pleasure to be around and she breaks down so many barriers by just being herself”.
Emily says: “I love working at Frankie and Benny’s, I love helping the customers and the staff I work with are friendly and great. We all have fun”.
Emily is a valued team member at Frankie and Benny’s. The team at the restaurant have been fantastic in supporting her to get where she is now.
Well done Emily, your hard work has certainly paid off and thank you to the team at Frankie and Benny’s for seeing Emily’s potential!
WorkFit Wales looks to support young people aged 14-25 years with Down’s syndrome access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives. We need your local knowledge and on-going support to help us achieve this. We are guessing for every young person with Down’s syndrome there is a parent/relative/friend who works, who could potentially ask at their place of work? Do you know of inclusive employers, employers who are currently or who have the potential to support people with Down’s syndrome?
Tell us who the employers are by contacting the WorkFit team on 0333 12 12 300 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit the WorkFit website http://www.dsworkfit.org.uk/