Working with employers to make each placement a success…Sam’s story

For many families of the young adults with Down’s syndrome we work with, a big worry can be the level of support that their children will receive in the work place. Will their sons and daughters have the opportunity to thrive and develop in their jobs?

WorkFit works with organisations who have already expressed an interest in employing a member of staff with Down’s syndrome. With WorkFit’s guidance, these employers can create truly supportive and enabling places for their new recruits.

Meet Sam

Sam from Barnsley has recently started a permanent paid job with XPO Logistics, a large company providing supply chain solutions across the world. XPO Logistics is a highly integrated network of people, technology and physical assets in 32 countries, with over 97,000 employees and 1,505 locations globally.

Sam is employed as a Warehouse Operative on a very large XPO site which employs over 3,000 people. He has a clear, established routine working on the inducting stations, scanning items ready to be distributed around the UK.

Sam uses Makaton* to communicate. When he met Cat (Yorkshire and Humber Employment Development Officer) for his initial WorkFit assessment he explained that he wanted to work somewhere big and busy, mainly by himself but in a team environment. Sam’s mum, Elaine, also mentioned that he has a fantastic memory for directions. All of these factors combined meant that Sam was a fantastic potential employee for XPO.

Support in the workplace

Once Sam had successfully joined the XPO team, XPO put an impressive training programme in place for Sam. Sam is partnered by a mentor, a colleague who he works with in tandem on the inducting stations. They work side by side doing their own work but Sam can ask his buddy for help if he needs it. Sam keeps improving week to week and his team is very pleased with his progress.

Tim Dean, XPO Logistics trainer says:

“Training Sam has been a great learning curve for me. Thanks to the support of Cat from WorkFit, it’s reminded me how to evaluate what I do in order to provide better training, not just for Sam but for any trainee. It has also taught me to use patience, understanding and observation to find better ways of delivering the training in order to meet Sam’s needs, as well as those of his work buddies.

What you get out of it is a genuine feeling of achievement, as well as pleasure of seeing someone doing so well and so obviously enjoying it.”

Parent’s perspective

Elaine says:

“WorkFit have been incredibly enabling for our son to find successful paid employment. He thoroughly enjoys his work at XPO. The staff have been welcoming, flexible and determined to ‘get it right’. We have felt so supported in the process and feel optimistic that our son will continue to extend his skills and knowledge in his work. Thank you to all involved. We are so so proud.”

Tony, Sam’s dad, says:

It is obvious how much Samuel loves this job. When he goes to college we have to wake him up and encourage him to get ready. However when he is at work he is up and ready in his uniform for 8.30am before setting off. He really feels valued and part of the team.”

Before any WorkFit candidate begins in a new role, one of our Employment Development Officers (EDOs) will deliver a free Down’s syndrome awareness training session to the employers. Yorkshire and Humber EDO Cat Rolley, who has been working with Sam and the XPO team, found them keen, friendly and full of ideas.

XPO has taken on board the key messages of the training to empower Sam in make his new job a success. They’ve made some simple, reasonable adjustments:

  • Sam has a clear routine in his job role
  • He has a pictorial task list
  • XPO included pictures in his induction and showed him, as well as telling him, where the fire assembly point are, how to do manual handling etc.
  • Sam initially started on a two hour working day. He now does a four hour working day.

Sam says “Work is brilliant” and it is clear from his actions that he doesn’t want to stop. His work mentor’s feedback is that he never wants to leave XPO!

Cat said:

“XPO has made a huge difference to Sam’s life and wellbeing. Their training programme has been well thought through. It works for Sam but it also works for the company. I can see huge potential for working with XPO around the country. They should be very proud of the training programme their team has developed for Sam. I am also delighted that the team will be welcoming their second WorkFit employee during October.”

We are very proud to be working with XPO and for their ongoing support for WorkFit. We hope other sites around the UK will be motivated by the success of Sam and his team, and would consider working with WorkFit.

WorkFit North is possible due to the Big Lottery Fund

* Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate.

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 or if you know of someone who might be able to offer work experience or a job to one of our candidates with Down Syndrome please contact the team

On 0333 12 12 300 or email us on