It was a pleasure to hear presentations from candidates who are excelling in positions across the region at our 2017 North East Conference. All of the candidates who spoke were an inspiration and we are grateful to all of them and their parents for joining us.
We also heard from several employers about their positive experiences of WorkFit.
Louise and Brunswick Methodist Church
Louise has worked for over a year at Brunswick Methodist Church as a volunteer for the Friday Lunch Club. Louise and her mother Alison told the conference all about her job, telling the audience that she likes ‘customer service’ best and ‘getting dinners’. You can read a blog by Alison about Louise’s job here.
Fiona, who works with Louise at the church, came along to support her at the conference and spoke of her experience with WorkFit: “Louise has fitted into our existing team of lunch club volunteers well. She helps to set tables and serve meals to the customers before sitting down and enjoying a meal herself. The customers have responded very positively to Louise and ask after her if she is not at the club for any reason. I feel that WorkFit is a valuable programme and we’re proud to be a part of it. The training given to us as employers was very educational and gave great insight into working with people who have Down’s syndrome.”
Luke and Fenwick
Luke has a part-time paid job at Fenwick department store in Newcastle. Luke gave a lively and engaging presentation without any preparation. He delighted the delegates with his sense of humour and comic genius.
Luke told everyone how much he enjoyed working at Fenwick in one of the popular café’s in the store. He talked about his tasks and responsibilities, saying that: “I love working in the kitchen with David and the team. I do lots of different jobs and I like talking to the customers. I’m over the moon and I’m proud”.
Luke’s mum Jan was also happy to contribute and told us about the support that Luke has had both from WorkFit and Fenwick. She is very proud of Luke and everyone was deeply moved by her words.
Luke’s manager, David, was unable to attend the conference but he wanted to share his thoughts about Luke and how well he is doing:
“Luke joined us at the start of this year and picked things up really well. He is always focused and does his best at every task. He understands that it is different when he is at work than it is when he’s a customer in the store. Luke takes a methodical approach and his work area is always clean and tidy. Luke is well-liked and respected as part of our team and we want to continue to give Luke every opportunity to shine.”
Sarah and the Legal Aid Agency
Sarah recently completed a 12-week work experience placement with the Legal Aid Agency. Sandra, from the LAA, joined us at our North East Conference and told delegates how the the Central Business Support Team were delighted to welcome Sarah for her placement. Before the placement started, the team had Down’s syndrome awareness training to learn how to support Sarah in the workplace.
Sarah was made to feel welcome and quickly became an important member of the team, completing allocated tasks during her two days per week at LAA. Sarah was responsible for administrative data entry which allowed caseworkers to concentrate on their case plans. Sarah’s work was so efficient she was able to reduce the backlog from 15 days to 2 days in the 10 weeks she was there. On Sarah’s last day the team held a buffet to celebrate her birthday and her time with them.
Sarah addressed conference delegates and talked about what she enjoyed during her placement, such as carrying out her work and bonding with her colleagues in the team. In Sarah’s own words: “When I first started I was nervous and scared, but now I know the people they are very nice and friendly. The placement has been amazing, I have really enjoyed it and I am going to miss the work and the team.”
Sarah was a great asset to the Central Business Support Team and Sandra was keen to encourage more organisations to offer these placements. Senior Managers at the LAA are now exploring the best way to make more placements available at other offices across the LAA and beyond. The WorkFit team are currently working with locations in Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham.
In addition, Sandra and her team will be welcoming another WorkFit candidate, Craig, for a work experience placement this month.
We are grateful to everyone who spoke at the conference and we look forward to continuing our work in the North East in the years to come.
To find out more about WorkFit and how we support people with Down’s syndrome to access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives, please contact the 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