By Simon James, Wales Employment Development Officer
Since our launch in October of 2014, WorkFit Wales has travelled the length and breadth of the country supporting people with Down’s syndrome to move into or closer to the world of work.
Our aim was and still is to raise the aspirations of young people with Down’s syndrome in Wales by providing advice, guidance and developing meaningful work opportunities.
On our travels we have met with wonderful candidates, families and support services, all of whom have helped us achieve our goal.
When we launched WorkFit in Wales in October 2014 it was exciting times, but ultimately we knew the hard work had only just begun. We started with no candidates, no employers on board and a great deal of networking and project promotion to be done!
So what has changed one year on?
- 32 candidates have registered onto the WorkFit project in Wales
- 17 people have entered meaningful work opportunities
- 17 employers across Wales have hired someone with Down’s syndrome
- We have trained 17 employers across Wales
- 97 employees from those organisations now have a much greater knowledge of Down’s syndrome. They have benefited from the Down’s syndrome awareness training that focuses on the learning profile of a person with Down’s syndrome
- The feedback from the sessions has been very positive. Here are just a few comments received:
“I’ve been inspired by all aspects and learning more about people with Down’s syndrome and how much they already know and can achieve” (Asda,Pwllheli).
“It left me feeling excited about WorkFit and the impact our organisation can have on a young person with Down’s syndrome” (School of Optometry, Cardiff University).
“It gave me a greater insight into how our workplace can accommodate people with Down’s syndrome” (The Management Centre, Bangor University).
“Interesting and useful. [I] feel positive about working with people with Down’s syndrome” (National Trust, Bodnant Gardens).
- We have attended schools and colleges throughout the country promoting WorkFit and the benefits of work experience during the transition years
- A steering group has been set up in the South East of Wales which meets on a quarterly basis to discuss the WorkFit project and how we deliver it successfully
- Our networking has allowed us to engage with many other organisations to help promote WorkFit. These include Job Centre Plus, Local authorities, Careers Wales & Social Services
We want to continue to support many more young people in Wales access and benefit from meaningful work opportunities and support employers to hire people with Down’s syndrome
What were the highlights in the first year?
- Meeting so many wonderfully talented young people who have so much to offer
- Seeing young people who have accessed WorkFit develop, make friends, gain a greater knowledge of work and become more independent
- Working with so many supportive families, support workers and friends who all want more work opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome
Thank you to everyone we have met along the way so far!
WorkFit Wales aims to support young people aged 14-25 years with Down’s syndrome access meaningful work opportunities. We need your eyes and ears, your local knowledge and your on-going support to help us achieve this. Do you know of inclusive employers, employers who are currently or who have the potential to support people with Down’s syndrome? We are guessing for every young person with Down’s syndrome there is a parent/relative/friend who works, who could potentially ask at their place of work?
Tell us who the employers are by contacting the WorkFit 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