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Learning disabled’s valuable contribution

Warwickshire County Council is backing the Government’s policy to support more disabled people into paid employment and is asking local employers to help secure jobs for adults with learning disabilities.

Annette Skermer, Manager of the Warwickshire Employment Support Team (WEST) at the county council said today: “All our customers have some form of learning disability. 

They also all have unique abilities and characteristics that can really add value to the county’s economy. The feedback we receive from employers is that the people we find are overwhelmingly loyal, reliable and trustworthy members of staff. ”

Most people with a learning disability want to find work but national figures suggest that fewer than one in five gain paid employment.

The council finds that very often companies are missing opportunities by absorbing routine tasks within the ‘day job’ of professional staff.  The WEST service helps employers to identify these activities and match the right person to the right job. Even if these tasks only amount to a few hours a week, there are many people who are willing to work very part-time hours.

Despite the challenges of the current labour market, WEST has many success stories. For example, 29 year-old Andrew Allcock was keen to get a job in a café environment. 

WEST arranged for Andrew to attend an interview in the kitchens at Trinity Catholic School in Leamington and offered him support with his CV, interview techniques and travel to and from work. Andrew’s prospective employers quickly recognised his qualities including his friendliness and strong work ethic and how he would fit into the team. 

Since starting work 15 months ago, Andrew’s hours of work have increased twice and he carries out a large number of tasks, from food preparation and serving the school’s students and staff to washing up and putting out the tables and chairs.
Andrew said: “I really enjoy the work I am doing and I get on well with all the people I work with. I do different tasks like serving the children, filling the dishwasher, and getting the food ready.  I get lots of support from the people I work with in the kitchen.

"Also I have had a lot of support from WEST to train me for the work and to help me learn how to get from my home in Kenilworth to Leamington by bus which I do each day. So I want to say a big thank you to my colleagues and to WEST.  I’ve always wanted a job and to earn my own money and now I can.”

Janet Blythe, Development Manager at County Caterers, who employ Andrew, said: “As an organisation we have benefited in many ways from employing Andrew.  He has become a valued member of the team with much to contribute and his colleagues have greatly enjoyed supporting Andrew and seeing him develop new skills and grow in confidence.”

The WEST Service is keen to hear from any Warwickshire employers who feel that they could work with the service. There are a many people waiting for part-time work at the moment who are job ready and just in need of someone to give them a chance to prove themselves. 

Employers can call the team for an informal chat on 01926 412241 (serving Warwick district, Leamington, Rugby and Stratford areas) or 02476 385200 (serving Nuneaton, Bedworth and Atherstone areas).