Tom has a paid job at The Environment Agency’s National Laboratory Service

Tom at NLSTom has lots of work experience, including in catering, but had been looking for a more permanent work challenge for some time. Although Tom has plenty of transferable skills, he faced many barriers to the workplace.

At the same time, the Environment Agency’s National Laboratory Service had created a new position within the Lab Technician Team to help with the management and disposal of sea and river water quality samples. The role supports the team to determine the blue flag status of the beaches around the country. The team were very keen to employ someone with Down’s syndrome so contacted WorkFit and booked the awareness training.

In discussion on the training day, Paul, WorkFit South West’s Employment Development Officer, knew that Tom would be a great candidate for the Agency’s role.

The Environment Agency is 15 miles away from Tom who lives in a remote rural area. He has to take a bus, train and then walk to the office.

On his first day, Tom, supported by Paul, attended his health and safety briefing and induction. He immediately impressed Toby, the team leader, with his understanding of the fire drill, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and his orientation around the building.

Toby says, “The introduction of WorkFit at the NLS has provided an opportunity for Tom to realise and prove his potential.” Tom thinks Toby “is really cool!”

Tom also completed a practical laboratory work trial. Wearing his PPE, he quickly learned how to sort and manage samples bottles within the controlled and ventilated area, disposing of the contents safely and recycling the different plastics. Tom has a prosthetic on one hand and using a very simple free standing bottle gripper, he managed all the trial tasks perfectly.

The team have been so impressed with Tom’s work trial, that the Environment Agency have already offered him a paid role as a Laboratory Assistant.

Tom Sewell at workJames Trout, the Laboratory Manager is already looking for more opportunities to work alongside WorkFit, “I knew that our workplace would really benefit from getting involved with WorkFit and I was right. This all came about by thinking differently when a vacancy became available. We could easily have just gone through the motions, but as part of our annual planning cycle we challenged ourselves to do something different. The whole Environment Agency have got behind the initiative and I am confident our relationship with WorkFit will continue long into the future.”

Tom is delighted to be working in such a prestigious organisation. He is also an excellent sportsman and has successfully competed in Special Olympics tennis tournaments.


WorkFit supports people with Down’s syndrome to access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives. For more information about WorkFit please contact the team on 0333 12 12 300 or email us on

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