Here at Citizen Advice Wokingham, we pride ourselves in empowering the most vulnerable people in our society and that includes adults with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Myself, being the parent of a disabled son, I understand the need and the wish of these adults of all ages to be part of society and meaningfully contribute like everyone else in a productive way.
It is part of their Human Rights.
To that end, earlier this year, as an inclusive employer, we started to welcome work experience placements from Optalis, the local Adult Social Care provider, in collaboration with Reading College.
This week, we were awarded an Inclusive Employer Certificate by Optalis. We were delighted to receive such an accolade.
Currently, we have a lady who comes in regularly on a Friday morning with her support worker and she deals with tasks which we know she will be successful at in our admin team. We are also planning to help her develop further work skills now she is familiar and comfortable with the office admin.
We are looking at welcoming more work experience placements from Optalis in the future so as to equip these adults with the necessary skills to ultimately enter the workplace when they are ready.
We also welcome other adults with disabilities as volunteers for our organisation. We make reasonable adjustments in placing them in the right area of work so that they are successful at the task.
We coach them, support them, make them a drink when things get tough and praise them for every day of work they give us.
Earlier this year, my own son wanted to do some work experience like his peers at College and asked me whether he could come to Citizens Advice Wokingham where I work.
I asked Jake Morrison, our CEO whether he could come in on an ad hoc basis during College holidays.
Jake was extremely supportive in giving him the opportunity whilst at College to develop Office admin skills and indeed socio-behavioural skills in the workplace — an area where he struggles. Having to abide by office rules and times like everyone else, was also something he learnt to work with.
In return, his confidence has grown enormously since he feels wanted and needed. That is an invaluable reward for him.
We do need these inspirational people in the workplace, they who overcome so many challenges to be able to lead an independent and fulfilling life.
Here at Citizens Advice Wokingham, we feel humbled by this and will continue to enable people to fulfil their potential.