Ffion’s mum has shared her views on WorkFit and employment…
My name is Janice; my daughter Ffion who is nearly 18 years old has Down’s syndrome. She attends High School where she is in the 6th form and she is a prefect. After a very successful work experience placement in an office, Ffion is keen to get a similar job when she leaves school.
I want more for Ffion than to just “be happy”. Of course her happiness is vital, but so are the opportunities, support and potential. I want her to experience the real concept of work, time-keeping, appearance, accountability and responsibility. I don’t want her just to experience what may be called ‘menial tasks’. An ideal job would be near home, within the community, with people who have had (and will implement) the training offered by WorkFit, with people who will treat Ffion as an equal and respect her potential, value her input and treat her appropriately to her age.
I want Ffion to know the true value of work and the need to earn money in order to boost her confidence and self-esteem. I hope she will make new friends and socialise more with future work colleagues. Ffion deserves a “proper” job because she is brilliant!!
In my experience, it’s really difficult for people who have Down’s syndrome to gain real, meaningful employment. I think that this is largely down to ignorance of people’s capabilities and the age old myth that “they are always happy and loving”. I would hate to see Ffion in a position where she is employed just to “tick the employer boxes” or through pity or because she would be “fun to have around”. I want her to be employed for the capable, responsible, trustworthy person she is.
Ffion may have Down’s syndrome, but she has the same rights as everyone else. She may need support and encouragement, but it’s her right to have that.
There are employers out there who could provide work experience and permanent employment for Ffion. Finding them is difficult, almost impossible for a parent, but with the support provided by WorkFit there is no reason why more people with Down’s syndrome cannot be gainfully employed.
WorkFit Wales looks to support young people aged 14-25 years with Down’s syndrome access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives. We need your local knowledge and on-going support to help us achieve this. We are guessing for every young person with Down’s syndrome there is a parent/relative/friend who works, who could potentially ask at their place of work? Do you know of inclusive employers, employers who are currently or who have the potential to support people with Down’s syndrome?
Tell us who the employers are by contacting the WorkFit team on 0333 12 12 300 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit the WorkFit website http://www.dsworkfit.org.uk/