A parent’s perspective of WorkFit

Louise’s mum, Alison tells about her daughter’s life and ambitions…

Louise_1Since being a young girl, Louise has always expressed an interest in working in catering; spurred on by a love of all things edible! When the chance came for a catering course via the local Adult Learning Alliance we jumped at the chance as it seemed ideal; working in a community cafe and learning the skills behind food hygiene and preparation. Unfortunately, due to our old friends ‘transition’ and ‘progression’ when the one year course ended Louise had to finish the placement. She was upset and I was saddened as she had made friends with fellow students, staff and importantly, the local people who used the cafe. It was her world and something she was doing independently; so much so an old lady on a bus, (not realising I was her mum) introduced Louise to me saying, ‘She makes a canny cup of tea, does Louise’.

Louise_2A chance meeting with Alison (Employment Development Office North) at a learning disability event at Northumbria University, got me thinking that with the skills learnt on her course Louise might be suitable for voluntary or paid work in a cafe. I discussed it with Louise and she said ‘yes, work in cafe’, so a meeting was held at Louise’s house. Alison was great, directing the questions to Louise (with me biting my tongue not to answer for her – will I never learn?!). Time passed and Alison got back in touch saying there was a volunteer opportunity in a church which provided meals for older people in Newcastle and would Louise like to submit her CV? Now there is something I never imagined 20 odd years ago – me helping Louise compile her CV!

Louise_3As Louise is in Independent Supported Living, a member of her staff team took her to the interview in September. I think I was more nervous than Louise was as she can be a bit defiant if asked too many questions or put on the spot. But no, she passed with flying colours (again, will I never learn?!) and is now volunteering one day a week. Louise’s staff take her and she goes off and does her jobs. She says she likes ‘customer service’ best and ‘getting dinners‘. I am not sure if this refers to serving the dinners or getting fed at the end of her shift!

I have purposely not got too involved with this aspect of her life as this is her work (and who wants their mum nosing about their job?) I trust her staff and Alison at WorkFit. The staff at the Church tell me if things aren’t going so well and we look to find solutions, but so far she is doing a grand job and I am very proud of her.

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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: http://www.dsworkfit.org.uk/