In 2014 the Down’s Syndrome Association secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund Wales to develop WorkFit in Wales. Our aim was to help candidates aged 14-25 years to secure meaningful work that they wanted and enjoyed, doing work that interested them and they were good at.
Once this funding ended we commissioned an external evaluation of the WorkFit programme for the Big Lotter Fund Wales and we are delighted to be able to share some of the highlights of the report in this blog.
Impact for candidates and their families
In the last three years, 43 candidates have benefited from mainstream work opportunities generated by the WorkFit Wales project. We have also developed 24 paid work opportunities for our candidates.
The majority of candidates are in jobs they want and enjoy and work is allowing them to expand their friendship circles and social contacts.
This is great news as it is exactly what we were aiming for in 2014 and shows the wider importance of work to people with Down’s syndrome.
The ongoing support provided by WorkFit has allowed the majority of our candidates to feel confident about their ability to succeed in their current job and plan their future career.
WorkFit Wales has also had a positive impact on family members. They appreciate the specialist work and employment support we are able to provide as well as that related to in-work benefits. It is also good to report that people’s aspirations have been raised too, with more family members now seeing permanent paid work as a realistic and obtainable outcome for their relative with Down’s syndrome.
Working with employers
Employers are a vital part of the WorkFit process. Since 2014 we have conducted 49 training sessions in Wales, training 250 members of staff. These employees now have a greater awareness of Down’s syndrome and feel more confident to support a person with Down’s syndrome in work.
The evaluation found that WorkFit Wales has led to an increase in employers confident about supporting an employee with Down’s syndrome. The report showed that employers are satisfied with the training and support provided and enjoy seeing their employees learn and grow in their roles.
We are delighted by the results of the WorkFit Wales project. We congratulate all of our candidates on their success and thank all the employers we have worked with since 2014. We are looking forward to a bright future in Wales and hope to continue our success in the years to come.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Steve Beyer and Dr Ruth Townsley from the South West Employment Institute for their support in carrying out the required external evaluation for our project. We will be publishing this report, as well as an easy read version, on our website in due course. We would like to say a big thank-you to our funders Big Lottery Wales Fund for making the project possible.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit the WorkFit website: www.dsworkfit.org.uk