WorkFit extend collaboration with John Lewis Partnership to South Manchester

The hospitality industry remains a popular career choice for many WorkFit candidates and we are delighted to announce the expansion of our partnership with John Lewis at the Intu Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester. We have previously placed candidates at Waitrose stores in London, Wales and South West England. WorkFit candidate Matthew has completed a 12 week work experience placement at The Place to Eat- a vibrant, busy contemporary café housed within the John Lewis store. Matthew and his Mum visit the café on a regular basis and he was clear about his ambition to get a position there, telling WorkFit- “I want a job at the John Lewis café, The Place to Eat. My dream job would be to work in a John Lewis Café”. From our first meeting we were greatly impressed by Matthew’s focus and his determination to achieve his ambitions.







WorkFit met with Ashley Hickson the Catering Manager and Carole Hartley, John Lewis People Manager who were instrumental in Matthew’s placement.  The store worked closely with South Manchester WorkFit Liaison Officer, John Henry to carve out a suitable position for Matthew. Ashley embraced the WorkFit programme and was instrumental in creating a real and meaningful role for Matthew. Ashley maintained high standards throughout the placement and invested significant amount of time in choosing the right workplace buddies for Matthew.

Before Matthew started at John Lewis the team around Matthew received free Down’s syndrome Employer Training. Feedback was excellent, with one of Matthew’s colleagues telling us: “The WorkFit training helped us so much. We were afraid of getting things wrong. The training improved our confidence and it was refreshing to be told that we already had a good understanding of what Down’s syndrome is, this made us all feel much more confident about the weeks ahead”.

Matthew exceeded all expectations in his role, receiving two commendations from customers during the first two weeks of his placement. Customers were impressed by his work ethic and his ability to work independently. When unexpected things happened, such as when a cup or plate was broken, customers were impressed by Matthew’s attitude and relationship with his buddy and their ability to calmly and constructively work together and put things right. Matthew is a very sociable young man and his ability to work with the catering team and converse with customers showed a great professionalism. Matthew was always friendly and was described by colleagues as “a joy to behold”. Independent, confident and impeccably presented in the John Lewis uniform, Matthew was a valued member and a real asset to the catering team, doing a real and meaningful job to the highest of standards.

Matthew loved his placement and made friends with other members of the catering team, commenting- “Happy, yes it is good I got a job at John Lewis. Good new friends I have made and it makes me happy to come here, work hard and help my friends. My funny happy friends- I enjoy saying hello to my new friends and eating lunch with them.” Following the completion of his placement he expressed his ambition to return, saying- “I want to get a job in John Lewis it makes me sad not to work there; I miss it at John Lewis. It is my dream job”.

Matthew’s family are understandably very proud of him, with his mother telling us: “Matthew loved his role in the John Lewis Café and it really is his dream job and he is sad and misses his work colleagues now the placement has ended”.

Throughout the 12 weeks Matthew was supported by three incredible buddies, Rhoda, Kieran and Janet. The role and choice of buddy is vital to the success of the WorkFit programme. All three buddies took on board the key aspects of the training and were very keen to support, challenge and enable Matthew to make a valuable contribution in the work place, ensuring that it was a positive and rewarding experience for everyone.

Rhoda told us “When Matthew was on the floor cleaning and clearing tables, he did such an amazing job, better than some of our own partners who worked on the floor”. “Matthew’s smile it’s infectious, he just makes me laugh. He also brought value and meaning to my working day”.

Janet and Kieran commented that, “The catering team at John Lewis have missed Matthew so much since the end of his 12 week placement but the customers miss him even more. The customers on a Friday always ask where Matthew is and when he will be returning. I miss Matthew so much. I have had a great time working with him. Matthew works very hard and is full of fun. He has cheered the place up with his big smile. The amount of customers who have said Matthew works so hard and does a great job.” Simply wonderful, some customers even changed the day they came to the café, just to see Matthew and have a bit of a chat, brilliant!”

John Lewis have been very impressed by Matthew and WorkFit. His manager Ashley told us: “Matthew just gets on with the job and has exceeded expectations, Matthew works independently and his ability to converse with the customers is amazing. A very smart, able and confident young man”.

John Lewis and Partners Catering Team are an inspiration. We would like to thank John Lewis and Partners Catering Team in Manchester for their support for Matthew and WorkFit look forward to working with them again in the future.

WorkFit North is possible due to the Big Lottery Fund

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

For more information visit the Work Fit website