November 2019

Last month, new statistics revealed that just 5.9% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment. It’s a downward trend year-on year, and confirmation that schemes like the Down’s Syndrome Association’s ‘WorkFit’ employment programme are vital.

One company that supports getting people with learning disabilities into employment is XPO Logistics, who have just won the ‘Best Employer Practice’ category at the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) Awards 2019.

The company employs seven people with Down’s syndrome in their supply chain network across the country in permanent, paid roles. The employments have all been secured through the WorkFit programme.

“The team at WorkFit are absolutely delighted that XPO Logistics’ incredible support of people who have Down’s syndrome is being recognised by BASE, who are widely acknowledged as the ‘governing body’ of supported employment in the UK. We are very proud to be working with the UK division of a global giant like XPO Logistics and hope more organisations across the country will consider partnering with WorkFit in the future.” Alison Thwaite, WorkFit Employment Development Manager

WorkFit brings together employers and jobseekers who have Down’s syndrome. It is a tailored service dedicated to training employers about the learning profile of people who have Down’s syndrome so that they can be supported in the workplace.

Aaron works at an XPO Logistics site in Manchester and said: “I love my job; I would like to become a Health and Safety trainer at XPO Logistics. All the staff have been very nice and I have learnt how to say good morning in lots of different languages. I like to work hard and keep focused. I feel very proud to work on the bailer.”

Aaron proudly accepted the award on behalf of XPO Logistics and gave a heartfelt and emotional speech. After the awards, his mum Carole thanked WorkFit and said: “Your dedication has changed Aaron’s life and given him purpose and pride in himself. Aaron has respect and dignity in his work environment and is so happy to go to work each day and be a valued member of the workforce. Of course, to earn money and have his own account makes him really proud! It makes him feel so good being just like his brothers!”

XPO Logistics have demonstrated a significant commitment to supporting people with learning disabilities to gain employment, retain their work and develop their careers. Each WorkFit employee has at least two in-work buddies within their team and these colleagues work closely with the candidates to support them to feel fully integrated. There is also a designated trainer, who delivers the training at a pace that suits the learning profile of their new colleagues. The company have also ensured that all employees have a structured work routine, shorter shift lengths and have created picture workbooks to help them learn their roles.

Gavin Williams, Managing Director, Supply Chain – UK & Ireland, XPO Logistics said: “We are proud that XPO Logistics have won the category ‘Best Employer Practice’ of the BASE awards in recognition of our support of WorkFit employees at XPO. It is a testament and recognition of all involved that have picked up and ran with the programme.”

Plans are now in place to secure more employment opportunities at XPO Logistics, which employs over 100,000 employees in 30 countries globally.

WorkFit’s ‘Employment Development Officer’ for the North West, Fran Austin, also scooped a ‘Highly Commended’ in the ‘Practitioner of the Year’ category at the BASE Awards. Since joining the team in 2017, she has successfully expanded an existing relationship with Timpson to create five additional positions within the company for her candidates. She has also formed a number of new partnerships with XPO, New World Trading Company and the Mill Exchange. She has delivered 48 WorkFit Employer training sessions to 407 employees, advising them on the learning profile of people with Down’s syndrome.