Leading Yorkshire-based company continues to support young people with learning disabilities and differences by giving them invaluable opportunities within the workplace.
Recent Queen’s Awards for Enterprise winners for Promoting Opportunity, Sewell Group, has been shining a light on disability in the workplace since 2017, giving more than 30 people paid jobs or work experience at Sewell sites across East Yorkshire.
Over the years, Sewell Group has partnered with the likes of Mencap (Humber) and was instrumental in establishing their ‘Abilities in Facilities’ programme through its Facilities Management business, Sewell FM.
One of the individuals who has continued to reap the benefits of the programme is Elliot Parkinson, who was diagnosed with Autism and Dyspraxia at two years old. Elliot started part-time for Sewell FM as a cleaner at Endike Academy and three years on, he now looks after his own floor. He really enjoys his job and works hard to make the most of the opportunity he was given, he said:
“Work experience got me into this role. Sewell were aware of my autism and dyspraxia, and they put steps in place to understand what works best for me. They have an understanding that everyone works differently, and this is really important to me.
“The main thing is my confidence; it has definitely built up over the years and my communication skills have really improved.”
Since then, the Goodwin Development Trust has also played a pivotal role in guiding young people with autism, learning disabilities and differences through job coaching, inclusion activities, and providing emotional support through work placements across other Sewell sites.
Kerrie White, Diversity and Inclusion Lead, and Neurodiversity Specialist from the Goodwin Development Trust (formally of Mencap Humber) added:
“I have been involved with the Sewell Group for several years, and in that time have been both inspired and empowered by the approach taken across the group to open its doors to Neurodiverse individuals.
“As Sewell Group have grown to understand and grasp the importance of Neurodiversity awareness, everyone has been keen to showcase how young people with additional needs, with the right support, can gain access to the working world and be successful.”
Staff have undergone specific training to help them progress and feel supported within their roles, opening secure opportunities in the world of work.
Sewell Construction has welcomed two new work placements from Goodwin Trust this year – Luke Garner and Sean Mills.
Luke Garner, an inspiring illustrator and children’s author, was commissioned to brighten up the construction site around Hull’s first purpose-built base for young children with autism – the Broadacre Primary School development, which celebrated its ‘topping out’ ceremony last month. Luke said:
“Since being commissioned by Sewell to do this, I have met a lot of great people. They just let me be me.
“I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I’m proud. I want to show people what I can do, and it is nice that others believe in me too. It’s an honour to be involved and be an ambassador for autism awareness.”
This experience has given Luke the chance to develop his passion for all things creative, and he is another whose confidence has grown massively.
Sean started on the West Hull Health Hub development to gain onsite experience as bricklayer and labourer. and will be moving across to the Broadacre development in a couple of weeks to develop more of that learning.
“It is great to see young people like Luke, and Sean grow and be given the opportunity to get a rewarding experience like this, hopefully being able to build a career out of it like Elliot. Elliot has, and continues to be a wonderful peer ambassador, working alongside Kerrie White, inspiring and motivating other young people starting out.
“By Sewell Group offering opportunities like this, it has helped to highlight how more industry job coaching could open up more opportunities for individuals like Luke and Sean.
“Everyone I am involved with at Sewell’s is prepared and willing to do things differently. That is why this partnership works, and we would encourage other businesses to think differently too.”