Forging work partnerships for people with Down's Syndrome

By Barrie Hudson - 3 November 2021

CharityCommunity
  • Employment Officer Roy Perrett, centre, thinks in terms of ability rather than disability

    Employment Officer Roy Perrett, centre, thinks in terms of ability rather than disability

A retired police Control Room Manager has joined forces with the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and the Down’s Syndrome Association’s ‘WorkFit’ programme.

Roy Perrett plans to help more people who have Down’s syndrome in the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire area find employment.

He will dedicate his time to providing local knowledge and on the spot support to employers and candidates looking for work.

He said: “I feel very honoured and excited to commence in such a fabulous role. I look at it as a wonderful opportunity to support the group members and make a difference.”

Growing up with a disabled sibling forms part of his motivation to help others.

“I had a severely disabled younger brother, who was absolute joy," said Roy. "He sadly passed away in 2019, having many profound disabilities, however he also had many abilities. 

"My attitude has always been to focus on ‘ability’ not ‘disability’, on what people can do, instead of what they can’t do, and I will bring this ethos to my new WorkFit role.”

Roy, 61, will work two days a week as the WorkFit Liaison Officer for the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group. He will cover Swindon, Fairford, Malmsbury, Hungerford, Pewsey, Malborough, Hullavington, Chippenham, Devizes, Calne, Aston Keynes, Cirencester, Aldbourne, Bromham, Melksham and Cheltenham.

Since 2015, the partnership between the Down Syndrome Association’s (DSA) WorkFit programme and the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group has been providing a tailored employment programme for people who have the condition in Swindon and Wiltshire. 

It is a service dedicated to training employers about the learning profile of people who have Down’s syndrome so that they can be supported in the workplace. It was through the partnership that Roy first came across the programme.

He said: “I first came in to contact with WorkFit in 2015, attending a group coffee morning. I listened to parents and young people who had Down’s syndrome about their attempts to find work. I remember feeling sad and frustrated as they explained about the barriers and challenges routinely faced.

"I was determined to act and reached out to WorkFit to offer a workplace opportunity at Wiltshire Police. I was introduced to a wonderful young gentleman called Luke who has Down’s syndrome. He initially became a volunteer administrator in the Control Room and then fully deserved paid employment. 

"I remember the pride on his face on receiving his employment contract. It was a wonderful moment. He also went on to achieve his NVQ in Employability Skills, inspiring the force to open up other workplace opportunities for others who have Down’s syndrome.”

Luke still works with the force, and since then WorkFit has secured a number of opportunities with police forces across the country in all areas, including dog handling, catering and administration duties in the front reception office, the training department, emergency control room, business services, firearms licensing, and special property offices.

Roy is now looking to engage with local businesses who may be interested in providing an opportunity for someone who has Down’s syndrome. Work can be paid jobs, volunteering roles, work experience or traineeships. 

Roy is also welcoming people to an online event on Thursday 11 November at 7pm, designed to explain more about the WorkFit programme.

Places can be booked by emailing chair@swindondownsgroup.org.uk

 

 

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