Here at SWALLOW we strive to create employment opportunities for the people we support, wherever possible. We find it extraordinary that only 4.8% of people with a learning disability in England are in paid employment - this is shockingly low and the statistic has actually fallen in recent years.
We listen to what our members want, and many of the people we support want to work. We create paid opportunities through our pop-up cafe events, our Gardening in the Community project and we have a number of roles at our offices too. We also have an Employment Support Co-ordinator who supports our members to find paid and voluntary work out in the local community.
It's Learning Disability Week this week and on Wednesday there is a focus on employment - to help amplify people's successes and promote the benefits of employing people with learning disabilities. To celebrate, we have spoken to one of our members who SWALLOW employs as a Cleaner at our offices here in Westfield. Lucy has been a member of SWALLOW for many years, having started out at our independent living skills training home - Base House.
Hi Lucy, can you tell us about your job at SWALLOW and how long you have been doing it?
I do the cleaning at the offices. On Tuesdays I do the finance and seniors' offices and on Fridays I do the main office. I started in 2011 - that's 12 years now!
What's your favourite thing about your job?
I like emptying the shredding paper and stocking up the paper towels, things like that.
How does it make you feel to have a paid job?
I like getting paid lots of money - I save it up!
Do many other people you know with learning disabilities have paid jobs, like you?
I can only think of two other people.
What would you say to employers who are thinking about hiring someone with a learning disability?
I would tell them that I am very hardworking.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
Having a job makes me more independent.
Thanks Lucy, it's been great to chat with you.