By Neil Courtman, Trustee:
Nearly 70 delegates attended the Cedar Court Hotel on 20 January for the Yorkshire and Humberside Workfit Conference. The conference was organised with the Down’s Syndrome Association and part funded by WDDSSG.
The conference was a huge success and attended by young people with DS, parents, carers, other local support groups, employers, schools and other interested groups.
We heard about the Workfit programme being run by the DSA from Alison Thwaite, the regional development officer. She talked about the help they are able to provide in getting young people with DS into work and the work they put in with potential employers to help them understand the benefits employing someone with DS can bring but also techniques they can employ to ensure the employment is successful for all concerned.
Two employers spoke about their journey in employing people with DS. It was fantastic to hear how they had embraced the opportunity and the work they were willing to put in to make it successful. They spoke glowingly about the positive effects the other staff and customers had commented on.
I don’t think either Alison or the employers will mind me saying that they were outshone by the young people and their parents who spoke about their experiences.I saw many people reaching for their tissues when they talked about how much they enjoyed going to work, the confidence it gave them, the reception they had received and how proud they were to earn their own money to spend. A number of the parents found it difficult to give their presentations because of the obvious pride they had in the achievements of their child but also the enthusiasm shown by the employers involved.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day and the chance to meet with other people with the same hopes of seeing our young people achieving their potential.
We hope to organise another conference this year with the focus specifically on Wakefield and district. Watch this space.
If anyone would like further information please contact Neil Courtman at neil@downsyndrome-wakefield.
A brighter future with WorkFit