Last Monday Gill Robinson our Operations Director and I were invited by Amy, one of our team, to the Octagon Theatre to see a new film - Work Matters: Bridges to Employment.
Amy was starring in the film and we came away feeling very proud of her achievements. Amy has been a valuable part of our team for 7 years since she was 16.
I met Amy’s Mum when my daughter needed a chiropodist and we got talking about daughters. Amy is 12 months younger than my daughter and was just finishing school at 16 and she was hoping to go to college but her Mum was concerned because Amy was only going to get 3 days at college and could accompany her Mum on home visits for a day but would have to stay at home on her own one day per week.
Amy has learning disabilities so her Mum was naturally very protective of her and I could see that her Mum was concerned. My daughter looked at me during this conversation and I thought about how lucky I am to have a daughter who would go to university and then get a job and become independent in life so I said’ Send her into me and we will find something for her to do.’
Amy joined our team and has been such a valuable addition to it ever since. She comes into work for 2 hours every week and packs up Ladderlog for us, makes a brew and helps out in lots of other ways. She is a ray of sunshine and the whole team love having her in the office. Whenever we have a team outing Amy always joins us and she loves telling new starters that she has been working here for 7 years.
She tells us straight what she thinks and I have recently joined her Zumba class and when asked who was the worst in the class she pointed at me and said ‘ Her!’
People with learning disabilities face many barriers in gaining employment and are more excluded from working than any other group of disabled people. It is often the case that they take less time off work and stay with their employer for a longer period of time than any other employees.
Research show that 65% of people with a learning disability want work and that with the right support they make highly valued employees. They have a variety of skills and the ability to do many different kinds of jobs and they are all individuals who have much to offer.
By employing a person with learning disabilities a company becomes more representative of society and reflect the community that we live in, and it helps us to strengthen the relationship with the community we work with. Why don’t you see if your company can find a few hours of paid or unpaid work and enjoy the benefits of employing someone who has so much to offer if only they could get over the bridge.