New employment officer will help more people with Down’s Syndrome find jobs

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A retired police Control Room Manager of more than 40 years has joined forces with the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and the Down’s Syndrome Association’s ‘WorkFit’ programme to help more people who have Down’s syndrome in the Swindon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire area find employment.

Roy Perrett, 61, from Devizes, will dedicate two days a week as the WorkFit Liaison Officer for the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group providing local knowledge and on the spot support to employers and candidates looking for work.

“I feel very honoured and excited to commence in such a fabulous role. I look at it as a wonderful opportunity to support the group members and make a difference” he said.

Roy explains that growing up with a severely disabled sibling forms part of his motivation to help others.

“I had a severely disabled younger brother, who was absolute joy. He sadly passed away in 2019, having many profound disabilities, however he also had many abilities. My attitude has always been to focus on ‘ability’ not ‘disability’, on what people can do, instead of what they can’t do, and I will bring this ethos to my new WorkFit role.”

Since 2015, the partnership between the Down Syndrome Association’s (DSA) WorkFit programme and the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group has been providing a tailored employment programme for people who have the condition in Swindon and Wiltshire. It is a service dedicated to training employers about the learning profile of people who have Down’s syndrome so that they can be supported in the workplace. It was through the partnership that Roy first came across the programme.

“I first came in to contact with WorkFit in 2015, attending a group coffee morning. I listened to parents and young people who had Down’s syndrome about their attempts to find work. I remember feeling sad and frustrated as they explained about the barriers and challenges routinely faced.

I was determined to act and reached out to WorkFit to offer a workplace opportunity at Wiltshire Police. I was introduced to a wonderful young gentleman called Luke who has Down’s syndrome. He initially became a volunteer administrator in the Control Room and then fully deserved paid employment. I remember the pride on his face on receiving his employment contract. It was a wonderful moment. He also went on to achieve his NVQ in Employability Skills, inspiring the force to open up other workplace opportunities for others who have Down’s syndrome.”

Luke still works with the force and since then, WorkFit has secured a number of opportunities within police forces across the country in all areas, including dog handling, catering and administration duties within the front reception office, the training department, emergency control room, business services, firearms licensing, and special property offices.

Roy is now looking to engage with local businesses who may be interested in providing an opportunity for someone who has Down’s syndrome. Work can be anything from paid jobs, volunteering roles, work experience or traineeships.

Roy is also welcoming people to an online event on Thursday 11th November, designed to tell people more about the WorkFit programme.

Online Event: Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group’s Online WorkFit Event for Candidates and Parents – Thursday 11th November at 7pm

To book a place, please email: chair@swindondownsgroup.org.uk

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