WorkFit Candidate Lucy completed a supported internship in customer relations at East Riding of Yorkshire Council with support from WorkFit and East Riding College. She has now been employed in a permanent paid position as a support assistant.
As Lucy was nearing the end of her time at college, both her and her mum Gill thought a supported internship would be a good way to introduce her to the world of work, help her mature and get her ready for the next stage in life. Lucy’s tutors at East Riding College approached the council to see if they would consider taking her on as an intern. Sam Tomkins, senior officer from the council’s children, families and schools directorate told us “I was approached by the council’s internal supported intern co-ordinator to consider taking on a supported intern from one of our local colleges. Knowing that individuals with protected characteristics, specifically those with learning disabilities are underrepresented in the paid workforce and my desire to fulfil my personal and professional duty to be inclusive, I discussed this with my wider team, and we all agreed that we would like to support a local young person with their journey towards paid employment.”
Support from WorkFit
Lucy’s mum Gill contacted WorkFit to ask for help in supporting both Lucy and the council. WorkFit provides a service to support all parties at each stage of the process, and this support is on-going for as long as it is needed by the candidate, their family and/or the employer.
Gill told us “Our WorkFit Officer Becki attended the very first meeting with the council, Lucy and myself to meet her new manager Sam and some of the team to find out more about the role. I remember how quiet Lucy was and overwhelmed by the thought of moving on from college. I was also nervous about how Lucy would adapt to the change… however thanks to the thorough planning by Sam, Becki and Lucy’s tutors at East Riding College, Lucy’s induction went well and she quickly settled in.”
WorkFit also provide bespoke training to employers to give them the confidence to welcome someone who has Down’s syndrome into their organisation. Sam told us “Prior to Lucy starting her supported internship, my team and I were supported by WorkFit, we all received training in relation to Down’s syndrome and, more importantly, about Lucy and her strengths and areas she would require additional support with. As the senior leader pushing this forward in a large organisation, I was personally grateful for the support of our WorkFit Officer Becki. She was always on hand for a chat and to support us.”
Lucy started working in the customer relations team for two days a week as she wanted to try working full days at first. It was soon realised that full days were not playing to Lucy’s strengths. Mornings were great, but Lucy struggled in the afternoon. With the support of WorkFit and discussion between all parties it was agreed for Lucy to do three mornings per week instead of full days. This adjustment made a real difference to Lucy. This was the best time of day for her as she was eager and wanting to learn new things.
Originally Lucy’s internship was only supposed to be for one academic year, however the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and Lucy needed to isolate to keep herself safe. During this time her team at the council kept in regular contact with her. Gill told us “I really thought that Lucy’s time on the programme would end and that would be that. However, her manager Sam and WorkFit Officer Becki kept in touch with Lucy during this time which really helped Lucy to keep a connection with her work team and the outside world during a very difficult time. I will always be incredibly grateful for this as it was over and above what was required.”
The council agreed to extend Lucy’s internship for a further year to allow her the time to be paid employment ready.
A permanent paid position
With further advice from WorkFit on creating an accessible recruitment process, the council offered Lucy her first permanent paid position. Lucy now works 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday, term-time only. Working term-time only allows Lucy regular breaks throughout the year to refresh her batteries and enjoy time with her family and friends. Lucy continues to work alongside her work buddies who have all received training from Workfit.
Lucy has completed all the council’s mandatory training packages, which have been adapted to suit her preferred learning style. The council’s training department are now using the work that had been done with Lucy to look at all their training and ensure it is accessible to all employees.
Lucy told us “I was so happy when there was job for me. At first I was scared about leaving college but everyone was so friendly to me that I soon settled in. I love my job, I enjoy doing all my tasks well and my buddies help me to learn new things. I have got so much ability and want to work hard to make people proud of me. I know that working hard will help me to get even better at my job. I feel so proud of myself for the great progress I have made, I want to learn even more new things so I can be given more tasks.”
Having a permanent job has given Lucy increased feelings of confidence and independence. Gill told us “The change in Lucy has been evident, she has grown in confidence and her self-esteem has also improved.”
Sam also reflected on the benefits that Lucy brought to her team “Lucy brings a warmth to our team and has taught us so much; I would really encourage other public sector organisations to consider engaging with WorkFit and being part of what can be a life changing opportunity.”
Lucy’s story is a great example of all parties working together to provide a valuable experience for both Lucy and her employer. Thank you to Sam and the team at East Riding of Yorkshire Council for their ongoing support.
To find out more about WorkFit and how we support people who have 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