Last month we talked about the importance of meaningful work experience and heard about Luke and Ffion’s time at Dunelm Mill and Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services (CAVS).
Today we’ll find out how Jack and Rhys did in their work experience placements.
Jack is 21 and lives in South Wales. He is a keen sportsman and is particularly interested in rugby. Jack goes to college three days a week and both Jack and his father felt that Jack would really benefit from incorporating some work experience into his weekly routine. Jack lives in a very rural part of Wales and this adds to the challenge of accessing work opportunities. The family contacted WorkFit to see if we could help.
Jack is enjoying college and getting a lot out of his studies but he wanted to start using his skills in a work environment. After his vocational profile was completed, it was clear that Jack was ready for a challenge; he is a very sociable young man, fit and eager to learn.
We felt that Jack would benefit from a role where he was able to try different tasks and learn different skills and approached potential placements with this in mind.
We approached a well-known museum in Wales. Ann ,the manager of the museum, is always looking for volunteers to help out. She was happy to consider Jack but agreed that the free Down’s syndrome awareness training was going to be essential for the museum to be able to properly support him. It was great to see all the museum’s members of staff at the training.
Feedback from the training session included:
“Think of tasks, break it down to simple steps, and make visual aids if needed. Be aware of the need to show Jack the process.”
“Informative and proving how much less daunting working with someone with Down’s syndrome can be.”
“Very positive – also in understanding needs of visitors with Down’s syndrome and considerations of ways in which we can improve their visitor experience.”
“Excellent – I wish I’d had this training years ago when I had a young person with Down’s syndrome in my school registration class.”
Jack has been volunteering at the museum since November 2015. His tasks include organising the woollen display and helping in the retail and reception area; helping with activities in the children’s area; assisting with the inter-active displays; and cleaning the café and museum. Jack has also helped out during the seasonal events at the museum and particularly enjoyed putting up their very impressive Christmas tree!
At first, most of Jack’s tasks were indoors as it was the winter. He is looking forward to getting on with outdoor work during the spring and summer. This will include ground maintenance, weeding, planting and helping with outdoor events.
Jack has also been working on independent travel as part of his experiences at the museum. He has been supported in learning to walk from the village to the museum. This is a small but very important development for Jack.
Ann said that “working with Jack has been a great experience for all the staff here at the Museum. It has been great to see Jack gaining confidence, coming to the museum on a weekly basis and developing in his role. Jack is now happy to work independently, supported by his colleagues at the museum. The support and initial training provided by the WorkFit project was particularly helpful in setting us up to provide Jack with a good work experience opportunity.”
Jack said “I really look forward to going to work at the museum. I have learnt new skills and tried jobs for the first time. I enjoy all the jobs except using the hoover.”
WorkFit will continue to support both Jack and the Museum and look forward to working with other museums in Wales.
Rhys is 17 years old and lives in South Wales. Rhys goes to college three days per week and has many hobbies and interests. He is a very keen skier, loves swimming, supports his local rugby team and plays many musical instruments. He is also bilingual, fluent in both Welsh and English.
Rhys and his family felt that it would be good to slowly incorporate work into Rhys’s busy life. He had already really enjoyed a work experience placement in a local café. After completing his vocational profile we talked about the different types of work available and what Rhys’s long term goals were. Rhys decided that he would like to continue working in a catering role but to develop skills in other areas as well.
Rhys benefits from direct payments and pays for a personal assistant for a few hours per week. We discussed the possibility of the personal assistant providing support as a job coach for Rhys in the early stages of a new role. Rhys and his family saw the benefits of this option.
The Riverside is a conference centre, golf range, restaurant and wedding venue. When we spoke to Andrew, the owner, he welcomed the idea of giving Rhys a work experience placement. He felt that with our support and training The Riverside would be able to provide Rhys with a range of opportunities to help him develop.
Feedback from the training session included:
“We will look to support Rhys during his time at The Riverside the best we can, using the information that I have been taught today.”
“It has given me a lot more awareness of Down’s syndrome and how to support Rhys.”
Rhys started his placement at The Riverside in January 2016. He works two mornings per week as a catering assistant. While learning new skills, Rhys’ personal assistant Sophie has provided support and guidance. Over time he has becomes less reliant on her support and she has taken a step back, allowing Rhys to develop and gain independence within the role.
Rhys does a range of tasks at The Riverside. He prepares the restaurant for a normal day’s service, clearing and cleaning tables and ensuring that the table settings are cleaned and set out correctly. He is also involved in preparing the restaurant for special events, weddings and functions. Rhys has also helped on the golf range, collecting baskets and doing general maintenance tasks.
Rhys is a very sociable young man but, like anyone starting a new job, he was quite quiet when he started. As the weeks have passed Rhys has become more confident of his abilities and regularly engages in conversation with both the staff and customers.
Rhys has been able to learn new tasks, develop his customer service skills and now has a much greater understanding of the world of work.
Rhys said “Since I’ve been working at The Riverside I have learnt new skills which will help me find a job.”
Sophie said “Work at The Riverside has certainly allowed Rhys to develop, he knows his role and he knows what he has to do and gets on with it.”
Joanne, the Assistant Manager at The Riverside said “Rhys is a pleasure to work with, he comes in, always well presented and just gets on with his work to a really high standard. We have really noticed his confidence grow over the last few months; he is happy to learn new skills and isn’t scared to take on new tasks. WorkFit have supported us as an organisation so that we can give Rhys the opportunity to develop.”
WorkFit would like to say a big “well done” to Rhys and Jack for all their hard work so far. We would also like to thank everyone at the Museum and The Riverside for the welcome and support they have given Rhys and Jack.
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/