Breaking down workplace barriers for people with learning disabilities

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Two determined and enthusiastic workers from Plymouth are proving to be great advocates for employing people with learning disabilities.

With only six per cent of people with a learning disability being in paid employment, this week’s Learning Disability Work Week (#LDWW) celebrates the contribution people with learning disabilities can make to the workplace.

According to campaigning charity Mencap, around 60 per cent of the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability would like to be in work.

David McCannon, 32, from Plymouth, who has a learning and physical disability, works for the charity Devon Link Up to help deliver Learning Disability Awareness Training which challenges people’s perceptions. He says: “I really like my job and I love meeting new people.

“I think my job is really important for attenders to learn more about people with learning disabilities, about their rights and skills. I’ve learnt lots about being a trainer and am much more confident.”

David and his co-worker, Jill Singh, deliver training to groups including university and medical students and staff teams working in Plymouth organisations such as Peninsula Medical School, Derriford Hospital and Plymouth Community Homes.

Jill said: “I love working with David. He is reliable, punctual and extremely courteous. He has developed a great sense of humour and now engages in banter during our break with course attendees. I have watched him grow in confidence and he is truly a joy to work with.

“When we receive feedback from attendees, comments always state the difference having David there brings to the session.”

Last year David was awarded a certificate by the Deputy Chief of Nursing at Derriford Hospital in recognition of the contribution he has made to student Health Care Assistants.

David was supported into employment by Seetec Pluss where he also delivers training and supports other learners. Neil Cattle, Employment Contract Manager at Seetec Pluss, which supports individuals to enter and progress in the world of work, praised his professionalism, reliability and boundless energy. Neil said: “David is a true inspiration and gets amazing feedback from his courses.

“With the right support to develop their skills and confidence, and the support of employers, there are so many jobs where people with learning disabilities can thrive and make a really positive contribution to the workforce.”

Claire Dawe, 29, from Plymouth, is determined to not let her learning disability get in the way of working and is an advocate for others, wanting to make sure that everyone is treated in the right way.

She also found employment through Seetec Pluss and works on the Learning Disability Awareness courses. Claire said: “We go to places such as schools to talk about how people with learning disabilities have been treated over the years. I find it fascinating because I didn’t know how badly people with learning disabilities have been treated. This is why I want to educate people.

“Coming to Seetec Pluss has made me feel so much more comfortable and happy. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have come this far.”

Claire is also an Avon representative and enjoys the responsibility of collecting and checking orders and, supported by her Seetec Pluss key worker, handling money.

Claire explains: “I would recommend Seetec Pluss to anyone who has a learning disability. I can’t describe how fantastic they are. It’s so amazing to meet others who have learning disabilities and has really opened my eyes to how many others have difficulties. Now I know I’m not alone.”

Seetec Pluss is one of the UK’s leading providers of employability and health services, supporting thousands of people to move into employment each year by creating and sourcing jobs and opportunities and focusing on people’s strengths. For more information see www.seetecpluss.co.uk, or contact enquiries@seetec.co.uk, 0845 33 06573.

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