“I’ll tell you why I like working…I like all the people who work here. I’m very proud of myself and I enjoy it!”

Celebrating three years of WorkFit Wales – supporting people with Down’s syndrome into work

Employers, parents, employees, politicians and representatives from schools and colleges across Wales were welcomed at a special event held at The Senedd on Monday 22 May to celebrate three years of WorkFit Wales, a specialist service to support people with Down’s syndrome into work.

Between 2014 and 2017 the project has received funding from The Big Lottery Wales and Monday’s event, which was sponsored by the Welsh Government’s Skills and Science Minister Julie James, enabled those involved with the project to celebrate its successes to date and outline what their plans are for the future.

Employees with Down’s syndrome spoke alongside their colleagues and employers about their work and the support that WorkFit Wales has given them.

Two short films were also shown featuring employees who had received support from WorkFit.

Emily, who is quoted above, works for Franky & Bennys:

Alex works at Specsavers:

Other employers represented at the event were Greggs and The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

An external evaluation of WorkFit Wales, carried out by Dr Steve Beyer and Ruth Townsley, concluded that:

  • People with Down’s syndrome enjoy their jobs
    Employees are doing work that interests them and which fits their skill-set and aptitudes.
  • Employees are less isolated
    Adults with Down’s syndrome in work are able to make friends and connections through work and get more involved in their communities through work activities and/or interaction with the public.
  • Better informed
    People with Down’s syndrome know more about the work options and support available to them, including benefits.
  • More awareness
    More employers and employees across Wales are now confident about supporting a person with Down’s syndrome in the workplace. WorkFit Wales has trained a large number of companies and their staff to orient them to the specific needs of people with Down’s syndrome.
  • People with Down’s syndrome are an asset to an organisation
    Feedback from employers indicates that people with Down’s syndrome make good workers.
  • A positive experience for everyone
    Colleagues feel positive about their employer employing people with Down’s syndrome.
  • Valuable support from WorkFit Wales
    Employers value the support they have received from the project and are open to taking more people if that same support is made available.

The Minister said: “Being employed can make a huge difference to a person’s life by helping them to feel valued and fulfilled, improve their independence and standard of living and widen their social network and we are committed to supporting more people into work.

“Sustaining a high rate of employment in Wales, reducing economic inactivity and increasing the number of people in good quality jobs are key priorities for this government and this project supports that vision.”  

To find out more about WorkFit Wales or to register, as an employer or as a candidate seeking work, visit www.dsworkfit.org.uk. You can also follow the WorkFit programme on Twitter @DSWorkFit.