Talking West Cheshire

Innovative scheme will assist people with learning disabilities to develop their skills in employment

7 September 2010

Jack with his colleagues in the postroom Jill Gill, Jodie Cunningham and Matthew Chinnery.Cheshire West and Chester Council has introduced an innovative programme designed to open up employment opportunities within the authority for people with a learning disability.

Gateway to Work, a project that aims to support the development of 30 posts throughout the Council of three hours per week, will provide fixed term contracts for up to 45 weeks. Participants will be supported in the workplace by the authority's Supported Employment Team.

Jack Lloyd, the authority's first Gateway to Work employee, has been working as a Data Control Postroom Assistant and already feels at home. Jack initially worked three hours a week, assisting in roles such as sorting out the mail and making sure it all reaches the right destination.

To begin with Jack was supported in the role by Supported Employment Officer, Roy Mayoh. He has since seamlessly fitted into the role, and now attends work on his own and is supported by colleagues in the department.

Jack was happy to share his experiences: "I am really enjoying my work so far, hopefully I can work more. I definitely feel like I already have more confidence in myself. I hope it gets even better and I can be more confident in the future."

Councillor Les Ford, Executive Member for Resources, said: "It is very important for Jack to keep developing and learning and it is clear from undertaking this role that he will be able to achieve those things. Indeed Jack himself feels that even in the relatively short period of time he has been there, his skills have already improved.

"I know that Jack feels that confidence is his biggest challenge to overcome, but I hope that working as a part of a close-knit team will help him to show his true personality and enable him to feel more assured.

"The authority is dedicated to assisting people with a learning disability find an area that they enjoy working within and then support their development within their chosen role."

Jack said: "I didn’t really know what to expect before I started but it has been brilliant.  I look forward to every Tuesday and Wednesday knowing I will be working.

"I work with five different people in the mail room and I get on well with them all. They are all really friendly and we help each other do the work."

As for the future, Jack hopes that the experience he is gaining from his current position will stand him in good stead: "I hope I can stay here for a while because I really like it. I have friends here already and my communication skills have improved as we have to work together."

Following Jack's success in the role he has now signed up to work six hours a week.