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Down's Syndrome Association

Charity Overview

The Down's Syndrome Association (DSA) is the only organisation in the UK dedicated to supporting people with Down's syndrome at every stage of life. It aims to help people with Down’s syndrome to live full and rewarding lives. By providing information and support for people with the condition, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them, DSA helps to increase knowledge of the condition and champion the rights of people with Down's syndrome.

There are approximately 40,000 people with Down's syndrome currently living in the UK, and the Down's Syndrome Association's services are in constant demand. One of the charity’s largest programmes is WorkFit, which connects employers with work ready candidates with Down's syndrome.  Every year more people with Down’s syndrome leave education with the skills to work; yet many struggle to access employment. ICAP’s support enabled the Down's Syndrome Association to employ a new regional project officer for WorkFitin the South West of England.

Watch the video below to see WorkFit candidate Lorni in action.

Project Summary

WorkFit is an innovative employment programme which helps people with Down’s syndrome to beat the barriers to gaining employment, by connecting and supporting employers and people who want to work.

Support from ICAP Charity Day 2014 in London has enabled the Down’s Syndrome Association to extend its work with the employment programme WorkFit, securing placements for 47 candidates with Down’s syndrome who have registered in the South West location.  Overall, the programme has engaged with over 20 employers and six candidates have been trained to date.  Employers trained include Waitrose, Redcliffe Hotel, Asda and Devizes Wiltshire Police.

After receiving ICAP’s very generous donation our WorkFit initiative has gone from strength to strength.
Alison Morgan, Fundraising Manager.

Networking groups provide a vital role in helping to ensure WorkFit is widely known which ultimately encourages more companies and prospective jobseekers to take part in the programme.   In October 2015 a presentation was delivered on WorkFit to the North Somerset Employment Sub group which showed how DSA support candidates with Down’s syndrome and provide further training to learning disability social workers.

Good to learn about benefits and support available to our young people. Very exciting project and looking forward to being involved.
Swindon DS Support Group Members and WorkFit Liaison Officer, following WorkFit Group training delivered in February 2016.

The grant from ICAP continues to transform the work that is being delivered in the South West. In the first year of support from ICAP, DSA saw a significant increase of awareness of the WorkFit programme in this region. This has enabled more adults with Down’s syndrome to understand there are work opportunities available to them.  The DSA is also working with local schools (such as Okehampton College and Bristol College) with the aim of raising student’s work aspirations whilst they are still in education. The DSA provided work experience opportunities to students, and affiliated local Down’s syndrome support groups have now been educated on the programme so are able to disseminate the information to their members. Finally, working with local companies has resulted in a change in attitude to employing people with Down’s syndrome.

I feel humbled and embarrassed that I have been quite ignorant when it has come to others with a difference.
Member of staff from Redcliffe Hotel.

The Down’s Syndrome Association plan to further develop the local support networks, including Exeter and East Devon Group and extend its partnerships with schools and colleges.  Furthermore, an inaugural South West Regional Conference is to be held in October 2016 to showcase the mechanics of WorkFit and its achievements.