Laura who lives near Cardiff has recently benefited from the WorkFit project in Wales.
Laura is now entering her last year at Derwen College and felt that it would be a good time to start thinking about life after college. Laura enjoys work experience whilst at college and has developed many admin skills whilst there.
When Laura registered onto the WorkFit project we discussed at length the type of work that she would benefit from and admin work was top of her list. Laura is a very organised person and loves interacting with others; great skills for the world of clerical work!
WorkFit approached Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences to enquire whether they could accommodate Laura on a work experience placement during the summer. They felt that the right support and training from the WorkFit project would be hugely beneficial to ensure a successful work experience, so a session was booked with the team.
“It left me feeling excited about WorkFit and the impact our organisation can have on a young person with Down’s syndrome” (School of Optometry team member).
“I found it very interesting and learnt things that I never knew. I will now treat situations differently” (Team member).
Laura started work at the School of Optometry in July.
Dr Maggie Woodhouse, Senior Lecturer and Head of Special Assessments at the clinic explains one of the roles of the clinic and how Laura has assisted her:
“One of the tasks that Laura has is to help me in our Special Assessment Clinic. In this clinic, three optometrists, myself and my colleagues Mike and Andy, provide eye examinations for children and adults with all forms of special needs. Because I have a particular interest, and a research programme, in visual problems in Down’s syndrome, most of the patients who come to see me have Down’s syndrome. In our clinic, we measure exactly the same things that all optometrists measure in eye tests; visual acuity (detail vision), 3D vision, whether our patient is long-sighted or short sighted and whether they need to wear glasses, how well the eyes move and work together and so on. But how we measure these things is different; our patients may not be able to read letters, may not be able to tell us how they see or what is wrong, may not be able to choose between different lenses for their glasses. Some of our youngest or most disabled patients may not be able to speak at all. No matter, we have special tests and child-friendly techniques that allow us to test anyone’s eyes. And, more importantly, we have time; time to allow the patient to settle and get used to us, time to talk and time to explain what is happening. And most importantly, we have fun!
Laura helps out with the young children by talking to them, reassuring the ones who are nervous, and by helping them to understand what is going to happen. She is also a great example to the parents, of how capable a young adult with Down’s syndrome can be. This is important reassurance to new parents, who might be fearful of the future for their child. I am very grateful to Laura for joining me in clinic”.
Whilst working in the eye clinic, Laura has provided vital support in all areas: helping with the day to day admin tasks, organising and sending out reminder letters, stamping forms, helping prepare NHS forms and welcoming all visitors.
“Laura helps with the admin in the clinic. She is very positive and hardworking and an absolute joy to work with!” (Steph Griffiths, Optical advisor)
Her daily tasks also included putting together the new student starter packs, organising the glasses and cases ready for shipment to other countries, opening, sorting and delivering the mail, photocopying and shredding.
“Laura has been a pleasure to work with and has brightened up the office every time she has been here” (Sue and Leanne admin team).
Laura has really enjoyed her placement at the University and has had real and meaningful work experience.
“I’ve really enjoyed working at the Optometry clinic in Cardiff over the summer. I’ve loved meeting new people and making new friends. The whole team at the Optometry clinic have really supported me. My favourite job has been helping to put together the new student packs and I also loved meeting the little children that have come in for eye tests with Maggie”. (Laura)
The Optometry team would like to thank Laura for the great work that she has done over the summer and WorkFit would like to thank the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences at the University in Cardiff for their part in supporting and developing Laura during this period. We look forward to working with Cardiff University again in the future.
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 eyes and ears, your local knowledge and your 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 www.dsworkfit.org.uk