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New plan helping people with learning disabilities into work

“Helping people with learning disabilities find employment is a key part of our action plan to ensure they live full, independent lives,” Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said in Monday (23 August) after meeting a Cardiff man celebrating an employment milestone.

Mrs Morgan met Harry Clements, 28, who has Down Syndrome, at his workplace, Gregg’s in Cardiff, where he has just completed five years employment.

He is one of hundreds of people with Down’s syndrome in Wales who have been supported into work through the Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit programme, supported by the Welsh Government.

Mrs Morgan said: “It was great to meet Harry and his employers today, he is a great role model for others with learning disabilities. Having the opportunity for paid employment is extremely important for everyone, in terms of self-esteem and living an independent life.

“That is a key element of the Welsh Government’s Learning Disability Action Plan, published earlier this year. Schemes like the WorkFit programme will provide employment, training and support for people with learning disabilities to enter and remain in the workplace.

“Our action plan will also create more opportunities for people with a learning disability to access apprenticeship schemes.”

Harry said: “I love my job it has made me proud of myself and makes me happy. I love wearing my uniform and chatting to customers and meeting new people. I look forward to going to work every day and earning my own money.

Julian Hallett,  Down’s Syndrome Association Services Development Manager, said: “We are delighted to be working with Greggs, who have been a wonderful supporter of the Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit Employment programme.  Our relationship began in 2016, when we introduced a young man to their Bridgend shop. Since then, the WorkFit Programme have supported 20 people with Down’s syndrome into work with Greggs in shops right across South Wales.

Alison Thwaite, Down’s Syndrome Association WorkFit Manager said “Greggs are a great example of a supportive and inclusive employer and they have fully embraced the WorkFit approach to developing potentially life-changing opportunities by supporting people who have Down’s syndrome into meaningful work”

Greggs employees who have Down’s syndrome are in paid roles, encouraged to develop their skills through Greggs training and are fully included in all activities both in work and socially.  Harry is a fine example of how successful this can be and demonstrates the benefits to both the employer and the person in work.”

Since the project launch in 2012, WorkFit has secured hundreds of employment opportunities for people who have Down’s syndrome. The Welsh Government has provided a grant of £278,484 towards their work for 2022-25

Chief Social Care Officer for Wales, Albert Heaney added: ”Harry’s achievements as a valued team member at Greggs for five years are to be celebrated, he is a powerful role model showing how inclusive workplaces can ensure that everyone can be supported to reach their full potential.”