Jack is 21 and lives in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales. He is a keen sportsman and is particularly interested in rugby. Jack goes to Ammanford College three days a week and both Jack and his father felt that Jack would really benefit from incorporating some work experience into his weekly routine. Jack lives in a very rural part of Wales and this adds to the challenge of accessing work opportunities. The family contacted WorkFit to see if we could help. WorkFit is a project run by the Down’s Syndrome Association to support people with Down’s Syndrome aged between 14 and 25 to access volunteering opportunities, work placements and paid work by removing barriers to employment.
Jack is enjoying college and getting a lot out of his studies but he wanted to start using his skills in a work environment. After his vocational profile was completed, it was clear that Jack was ready for a challenge; he is a very sociable young man, fit and eager to learn.
We felt that Jack would benefit from a role where he was able to try different tasks and learn different skills and approached potential placements with this in mind.
We approached the National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre. Ann Whittall, the manager of the museum, is always looking for volunteers to help out. She was happy to consider Jack but agreed that the free Down’s syndrome awareness training was going to be essential for the museum to be able to properly support him. It was great to see all the museum’s members of staff at the training.
Feedback from the training session included:
“Think of tasks, break it down to simple steps, and make visual aids if needed. Be aware of the need to show Jack the process.”
“Informative and proving how much less daunting working with someone with Down’s syndrome can be.”
“Very positive – also in understanding needs of visitors with Down’s syndrome and considerations of ways in which we can improve their visitor experience.”
“Excellent – I wish I’d had this training years ago when I had a young person with Down’s syndrome in my school registration class.”
Jack has been volunteering at the museum since November 2015. His tasks include organising the woollen display and helping in the retail and reception area; helping with activities in the children’s area; assisting with the inter-active displays; and cleaning the café and museum. Jack has also helped out during the seasonal events at the museum and particularly enjoyed putting up their very impressive Christmas tree!
At first, most of Jack’s tasks were indoors as it was the winter. He is looking forward to getting on with outdoor work during the spring and summer. This will include ground maintenance, weeding, planting and helping with outdoor events.
Jack has also been working on independent travel as part of his experiences at the museum. He has been supported in learning to walk from the village to the museum. This is a small but very important development for Jack.
Ann Whittall said that “working with Jack has been a great experience for all the staff here at the National Wool Museum. It has been great to see Jack gaining confidence, coming to the museum on a weekly basis and developing in his role. Jack is now happy to work independently, supported by his colleagues at the museum. The support and initial training provided by the WorkFit project was particularly helpful in setting us up to provide Jack with a good work experience opportunity.”
Jack said “I really look forward to going to work at the museum on Fridays. I have learnt new skills and tried jobs for the first time. I enjoy all the jobs except using the hoover.”
WorkFit will continue to support both Jack and the National Wool Museum and are looking forward to working with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales to find other opportunities across the organisation.