A PROJECT aimed at providing paid work placements for young adults with Down Syndrome has been hailed a "brilliant success".

The 'I Can Work' pilot was launched in October last year by Bingley-based Down Syndrome Training & Support .

The charity began life back in 2000 with four families, but over the years has grown to support around 400 families and 200 professionals involved in their education, health and social care.

Dr Wendy Uttley, Group Coordinator and Trainer at the charity, said: "Employment, as our children become adults, has always been something we have had in mind – our final frontier. Paid employment for adults with a learning disability in England stands at six per cent - a shockingly low statistic."

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Three companies have been involved in the pilot - Mortgage Advice Bureau in Bingley, Emerald Group Publishing, also in Bingley, and Haworth Medical Centre.

Rebecca Spalding started a six-month work placement at Mortgage Advice Bureau and became a valued member of the team. Her placement has now finished and this month, she is embarking on a new one with Project SEARCH.

Sam Murray started at The Brew Cafe at Emerald in April. He started work in the kitchen and is also learning other tasks and working independently.

"The staff report that they feel more confident working with people who have Down Syndrome, have increased patience and see him as a real benefit," said Wendy.

"Sam loves the work environment and the fact that he earns a wage. His parents report increased confidence and communication skills."

Stephen Hobley started his placement at Haworth Medical Centre in May.


Wendy said: "Stephen has a severe learning disability, but this has not hindered the placement from succeeding. Stephen’s parents report that they had underestimated his ability to cope with work, they realise now that he was clearly ready for it. He is learning to travel to work independently and tackling more tasks at home such as making his own bed and packed lunch. His confidence, stamina and enthusiasm have all increased."

A fourth placement will begin next month.

Wendy said: "The project has been a brilliant success and our aim is for it to continue. However to date we have not managed to secure any funding for the scheme which will cost £12,000 per year to run. It is the only project we know of that includes a wage for the placement. This wage is paid by our charity as we feel very strongly that it is a vital part of empowering and improving the confidence and skills of the young person. Many of them still need to learn money skills and earning a wage makes us all feel a valued staff member."

For more information on the project please contact Wendy on office@downsyndromebradford.co.uk or 01274 561308.