WorkFit Wales Roadshow

WorkFit in Wales recently held their first WorkFit Roadshow. It was a wonderful opportunity to get together with people working in the Cardiff area.

WorkFit is planning to hold similar Roadshows around the country. It’s great to be able to listen to people we’ve worked with, people we’ve supported on the project and people who have supported us on WorkFit’s travels across the country.

We were very fortunate to have Amy Bailey, Human Resources Manager for JoJo Maman Bebe attend the evening to give us all an “employer’s perspective” of WorkFit and the wonderful candidates that we both support. Amy spoke of how they had initially got involved with the Down’s Syndrome Association and the WorkFit project.

JoJo Maman Bebe first made contact  with us when they called us to seek advice. Since that first phone call, JoJo Maman Bebe have become a “model” employer and have hired many people with Down’s syndrome into paid, sustainable jobs within their shops and distribution centres right across the country. WorkFit provided the support and expertise in the employment field and this has allowed JoJo Maman Bebe to nurture a growing workforce of people with Down’s syndrome right across the UK.

However, the distribution centre and retail shop in Wales is where it all began.

Amy Bailey, Sammy-Jo and Thomas from JoJo Maman Bebe

Sammy-Jo and Thomas were the first people to start work at JoJo Maman Bebe and we were delighted that they were also at the Roadshow to give us their thoughts and to tell us about what working meant to them.

Both Sammy-Jo and Thomas spoke of their experiences and how they have developed and thrived both in and out of work. It was wonderful for everyone at the event to hear Sammy-Jo and Thomas talk about the positive impact that work has made to their lives.

Amy also spoke of the positive impact that Sammy-Jo and Thomas have made to their organisation and praised the way they have integrated within the company.

Stephen Beyer from the South West Employment Institute who has been evaluating WorkFit WalesDr Stephen Beyer (Evaluating the project on behalf of South West Employment Institute) also spoke at the Roadshow and explained his involvement with WorkFit. Dr Beyer and his team have been working with us in Wales to provide Big Lottery Wales with monitoring and evaluation research. It was good to hear about Dr Stephen Beyer’s work in the field of employment and more specifically his passion for promoting work opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome and learning disabilities.

Simon James, WorkFit Employment Development Officer in Wales finished off proceedings, reviewing WorkFit in Wales’ progress  since its launch in October 2014.

Simon James, WorkFit Employment Development OfficerWhen the project launched, its aim was to provide “meaningful” work opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome all across Wales and that hadn’t changed.

WorkFit achievements in Wales to date:

  • 42 people with Down’s syndrome have registered and received support from WorkFit in Wales.
  • 30 people have requested further support in accessing work opportunities across Wales.
  • 25 people have entered meaningful work opportunities.
  • 25 employer training sessions have been delivered in Wales.
  • 23 different employers across Wales have received training.
  • 113 employees across Wales have benefited from those training sessions.

Feedback from WorkFit employer training sessions in Wales:

“I’ve been inspired by all aspects and learning more about people with Down’s syndrome and how much they already know and can achieve” (Asda,Pwllheli).

“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, Cardiff University).

“It gave me a greater insight into how our workplace can accommodate people with Down’s syndrome” (The Management Centre, Bangor University).

“Interesting and useful. [I] feel positive about working with people with Down’s syndrome” (National Trust, Bodnant Gardens).

Big Lottery WalesThank you to everyone who contributed to the evening. It was a great opportunity to hear stories and experiences from employers, candidates and others involved in the project.

We look forward to doing it again soon!!