WorkFit triumph at the ERSA Awards 2018

WorkFit candidate Tom and the team recently triumphed at the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) Annual Awards in London. The event was held in the beautiful setting of Regents Park in Central London. Before the awards were presented we heard opening speeches from ERSA and the Minister for Employment, Alok Sharma MP who summed up the spirit of the occasion by saying “everyone here is a winner”.

There were ten awards in total, with WorkFit shortlisted for three.  The WorkFit team was nominated for the Team of the Year Award in recognition of our achievements in helping over 250 people with Down’s syndrome to access mainstream work opportunities since 2012.  On this occasion, we were not successful but did receive a certificate to recognise being shortlisted – something which we were delighted to receive.

The next award category we were shortlisted in was Adviser of the Year. Our former DSA WorkFit manager Veronica Mulenga won a Highly Commended Award, recognizing her accomplishments at the DSA between 2011 and 2018 in creating a unique supported employment approach tailored to people with Down’s syndrome.

The highlight of the night was WorkFit candidate Tom Sewell winning the Significant Achievement Award. Tom has overcome a range of challenges such as physical disabilities and living in a rural location to gain a permanent, paid job with the Environment Agency’s National Laboratory Service in Devon. Tom got the biggest cheer of the night when he collected his award and was understandably elated. Prior to the presentation Tom also got the opportunity to meet the minister which he greatly enjoyed.

He told us “Thank you so much to all the people who nominated me for my award. A special thank you to the WorkFit team who helped me find the job at the Environment Agency. I like working; it’s a good experience as I have an enthusiastic work team at the Environment Agency. I was excited to be the winner and to make my work colleagues, family and friends proud of me”.

His mother Lynn told us “I didn’t expect Tom to win as there were so many deserving candidates nominated. I am obviously immensely proud of what he has achieved, which is down to his determination and the help and support of his school, college, friends, family, community, employer and DSA WorkFit scheme. Tom hasn’t let his disabilities rule his life- he loves life, his job, his family and friends. I hope this award will encourage more employers to look at the unique talents people with learning disabilities can bring to the workplace. It was very encouraging to hear employers at the World Down Syndrome Conference at the United Nations in March 2018 stating they wished they had started employing people with Downs Syndrome ten years earlier as it had been so successful”.

Well done Tom – you are an inspiration to us all!

We were delighted to do so well at the awards. WorkFit Manager Alison Thwaite said “It’s wonderful to see Tom’s achievements recognised by ERSA and also to have the WorkFit team nominated in two categories demonstrates the level of expertise, commitment and dedication of the team members. All of the nominees were an inspiration and we were honoured to share the evening with them as part of such a wonderful event. We thank the ERSA for hosting the ceremony and look forward to next year.”

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 dsworkfit@downs-syndrome.org.uk

For more information visit the WorkFit website: www.dsworkfit.org.uk