In Wales Luke and Ffion have both completed work experience

WorkFit would always encourage young people to try and include some work experience in their busy lives, if possible. Many young people with Down’s syndrome in school and college may not be able to benefit from “meaningful work experience”. We see huge long term benefits in introducing work experience at the earliest possible time and are happy to support candidates, schools, colleges and employers in making this happen.

Workfit have closely followed and supported four young people in Wales who have combined their school and college work with work experience. Luke, Ffion, Jack and Rhys now have a much greater understanding of the world of work and how it compliments their school and college studies. They will also have a positive experience of work, a better work ethic and an understanding of the requirements of work.

In this post we’ll find out more about Luke and Ffion’s experience:

Next month, we’ll find out how Jack and Rhys got on.

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Luke doing his work experience at the cafe at Dunelm Mill

Luke is 22 and lives in South Wales. Luke is in college four days a week and has many hobbies and interests that keep him busy but he and his family realised that it was important to try and combine his study with some work experience. Luke had done some catering work and had really enjoyed it and he wanted to try and get similar experience in a mainstream working environment.

WorkFit was happy to support Luke. After getting to know Luke better and finding out a bit more about him, we began to look for a potential placement.

Andrew, store manager, and Karen, Senior Sales person in the coffee shop at Dunelm Mill, welcomed the opportunity to help.

Workfit delivered a free session of Down’s syndrome awareness training at the store. The training is an important part of the process and was greatly appreciated by all the Dunelm Mill staff. The training also gave us an opportunity to identify potential tasks for Luke, as well as suggesting reasonable adjustments that would need to be made. We were also able to identify areas of potential difficulty and provide suitable solutions in the process.

Karen said that she “learnt a lot about Down’s syndrome and how Luke will process information and how he will learn best, I really enjoyed learning today.”

Luke has been working every Saturday morning at Dunelm Mill coffee shop since the end of February. His tasks include clearing and cleaning tables, washing up in the kitchen, filling up and emptying the dishwasher, serving customers their meals and drinks, ensuring that the drinks, crisps and snacks cabinet is always full, filling up the children’s snack bags, and ensuring that the coffee shop is always clean and tidy.

Luke enjoys chatting with the coffee chop customers and the coffee shop’s regular customers appreciate the wonderful service that he provides.

Luke said “I really enjoy coming to work at Dunelm Mill, I have learnt a lot of new skills, the staff have really helped me too.”

Karen and Andrew are both very pleased with Luke’s progress.

Karen said: “We really enjoy having Luke in the coffee shop; he has settled in really well and developed his skills in all areas. Both the staff and customers of the coffee shop love having him here. He is always smiling, polite and a pleasure to work with.”

“We are delighted with Luke’s work and his professional attitude to his work” says Andrew.

“Dunelm Mill are pleased to have supported Luke and we feel he has developed a great deal in only a short time. Luke has been a fantastic support to the team in the coffee shop. WorkFit has been a great support to us as a store and this has allowed Luke to settle in so well.”

WorkFit would like to thank Luke, for his wonderful contribution, and Andrew, Karen and the rest of the team at Dunelm Mill, for all the support that has helped Luke learn and develop.

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Ffion doing her work experience at Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services (CAVS) Ffion is 17 and at school. Ffion registered with WorkFit to try and get some work experience.

After meeting Ffion and getting a better understanding of what she was looking for, we thought that work experience might possibly be incorporated into her school curriculum. We discussed the idea of taking Ffion out of lessons to take part in work experience with Ceri Davies, Ffion’s Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator at school. He understood the longer term benefits it could offer and was happy to be flexible.

The plan was that, if WorkFit could help identify, train and support a suitable employer, the school would allow Ffion to spend one day per week at her work experience placement. She would be accompanied by a teaching assistant to provide support and any job coaching that might be needed.

Ffion is a very capable young person. She is organised, has good admin and computer skills and was keen to show what a good worker she is. Ffion is also a regular blogger and has written pieces for Down2Earth magazine. Everyone involved thought that an opportunity in an office environment would best suit Ffion’s strengths, as well as giving her the chance to develop her skills as well.

Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services (CAVS) were interested in offering Ffion a placement and were keen to know more. Following a well attended Down’s syndrome awareness training session, we were able to identify many areas of work Ffion could do. One trainee commented on the training:

“Really useful and the video gave a good idea of what can be gained by the young people.”

Ffion started work at CAVS, accompanied by her teaching assistant, in February.

At the moment Ffion’s tasks include filing, shredding, photocopying, collecting and distributing the mail, organising the meeting rooms and ensuring that they are ready for events, running errands, putting booklet packs together and meeting and greeting visitors. She will also be taking on data entry tasks in the future.

Ffion loves putting what she has learnt at school into practice and now has a much greater understanding of the skills needed in the workplace.

Ffion said, “I enjoy helping the CAVS staff, I love learning new tasks. My favourite part is meeting and greeting the many visitors to the centre…Working here makes me feel professional.”

Sian Johnson of CAVS said, “Ffion has been a great support to us at CAVS; we are a busy office with many projects and visitors. We have been amazed at just how capable and knowledgeable Ffion is. Ffion is polite and courteous at all times, gets on with her work and is a pleasure to work with. The training really helped us to shape the opportunity for Ffion; it allowed us to develop a placement that not only benefits Ffion but also us as an organisation.”

Ceri, Ffion’s Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator, says that it “has been a real pleasure for the school to see Ffion develop during her work experience. We hadn’t considered this option until recently but the benefits for both student and school are there for all to see.”

“The school is always looking at ways of developing students and preparing them for the world of work. Working with WorkFit has been a good experience and partnership.”

We would like to say a big “well done” to everyone involved in this great example of partnership…to Ffion for her work to date, to the wonderful team at CAVS and to Ceri and his team at the school for looking at alternative methods to best support their students.

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Big Lottery Wales

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 dsworkfit@downs-syndrome.org.uk

For more information visit the WorkFit website http://www.dsworkfit.org.uk/