World Down Syndrome Congress 2018

The World Down Syndrome Congress came to the UK this year for the first time in its 32 year history. The annual event is run by Down Syndrome International and brings together people with Down’s syndrome, family members and professionals from across the world. WorkFit attended as part of the Down’s Syndrome Association delegation and were delighted to make a presentation.

Over three days delegates from over 90 countries shared best practice in support and inclusion (togetherness) for people with Down’s syndrome including the latest in research on health, education, employment, independent living, and leisure and sporting participation. There were 160 sessions and over 60 poster presentations. These included 12 plenary speakers such as Cambridge University Professor Anthony J. Holland and Andy & Sarah Merriman. The event also included exhibition stands, dance, music and drama performances and four international films starring actors with Down’s syndrome.  Delegates had a chance to unwind with a Family Scottish Night and a Congress Gala Dinner

A highlight of the event for WorkFit was presenting about meaningful employment opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome to a varied audience of people with Down’s syndrome, parents and carers, social workers, educators and a range of other professionals.

WorkFit candidate Lynsey co-presented with Employment Development Manager, Alison Thwaite, to give the perspective of someone with Down’s syndrome. Lynsey has a paid, permanent job at one of the Marriott hotels in the North East of England – read her story here.  She told the
audience about her life with her husband Paul and how proud she is of her job.

Our presentation outlined the importance of working collaboratively with employers to deliver supported employment tailored to the learning profile associated with Down’s syndrome and the central role this has played in the growth and success of WorkFit since 2011. This collaboration has increased the number of employers registering with the project, allowing us to form long-term partnerships with them to enable us to fully support them with any concerns or challenges.

WorkFit were part of a wider DSA group at the event, with our colleagues presenting on sex and relationship education. One of the many highlights was meeting Elaine Scougal, mother of twins Ollie and Cameron who spoke about the impact that professionals have on parents and carers and how important it is that support and information is available to new parents.

We greatly enjoyed attending and speaking at this year’s Congress and look forward to the next event in Dubai in 2020.

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