The Reader wins at the Brain Charity Awards

We are delighted to reveal that the winner of The Brain Charity’s 25th Anniversary Award for Most Supportive Employer is WorkFit employer The Reader Café!

The Reader is a national charity and social enterprise based in Liverpool. Since 2002 they have pioneered the use of Shared Reading in the UK and beyond to improve well-being, reduce isolation and build community resilience and connectedness.

They work in local community centres, care homes, mental health hospitals and prisons. The weekly shared reading groups they run inspire and support people to read great literature, aloud, together.

The Reader registered with WorkFit in February 2018. Inspired by their organisation’s belief that “by being bold we inspire ourselves and others to do more than we or they might have thought possible” they were very keen to employ a person with Down’s syndrome.

In March The Reader Café recruited WorkFit candidate Shauna as a Catering Assistant on a 12-week work experience placement, taking on a variety of roles within the café.

Before her placement began, staff gave up their own time to attend a WorkFit training session on how to support Shauna in the work place. Feedback was positive, with comments such as “Very helpful for my own personal understanding” and “Very informative and helpful”. The team has put their training to good effect and Shauna has learned a range of tasks with support from her buddies and other colleagues.

Shauna made a positive impression during her work experience placement and has now progressed to having a paid, permanent job. She has developed a great working relationship with her colleagues who all enjoy working with her. The team eats lunch together every day which has helped Shauna get to know everyone.

Her job has helped Shauna to feel part of the community and no different to anyone else. The Reader deserves this award for their strong commitment to workplace diversity, demonstrated by the support they have shown Shauna to develop in the workplace.

Shauna loves her position at the Reader. She told us:

I love working with the staff at The Reader. I enjoy helping with the teas and working in the kitchen cutting the sausages for the dogs.”

Shauna’s mum Margaret is delighted by the support The Reader have provided to Shauna, telling us:As far as we are concerned The Reader have welcomed Shauna and are helping her gain confidence in the work she is doing. The support is great and she is accepted for who she is, a capable young woman who happens to have Down’s syndrome”.

Nicola from The Reader was ecstatic to have won the award. She told us: “Absolutely delighted that we won the award, thank you so much for all your support. I’m pleased as it’s provided a great opportunity for our current staff to develop their skills and knowledge as well as an opportunity for Shauna”

North West Employment Development Officer Fran Austin said “I am thrilled that The Reader has been recognised for their ongoing support for the DSA’s WorkFit program. Shauna is a great asset to their team and I hope that their success inspires other employers to get involved”

We thank the Reader for their support for Shauna and WorkFit and hope others will be inspired by their story. We look forward to a long-term and fruitful relationship with them in future.

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

WorkFit North is possible due to the Big Lottery Fund.

For more information visit the WorkFit website: