Sewell Facilities Management opens up employment opportunities for young people with a learning disability

A facilities management company is creating paid employment and training opportunities for young people with a learning disability after joining forces with a specialist charity.

Sewell Facilities Management has already employed young people from the Hull branch of national charity Mencap, giving them full and part-time cleaning roles in offices and schools across the city.

Since then, the charity has noted significant positive changes in the young people, seeing them grow in confidence, self-esteem and respond well to increased levels of responsibility.

Josh Thomas, 21, from West Hull, has been supported by Mencap since February 2016 and has recently been employed by Sewell Facilities Management as a part-time cleaner at the brand new £10 million Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) in Hull city centre.

It comes as Sewell was recently awarded the facilities management contract at the state-of-the-art education facility, ensuring it is kept in top condition 365 days per year and providing peace of mind around the clock.

Josh, who is working as part of Sewell Facilities Management’s on site team at the UTC, said this is his first paid job and he is thriving on the challenge.

He said: “I have grown in confidence and self-esteem, and to have a job at the UTC is fantastic because it’s such an impressive building.

“I had the support of Mencap throughout the whole process, which was really helpful, and I completed the interview myself.

“I want to have a lot more confidence in the world of work and people with hidden disabilities need access to work. Since I was referred to Mencap, I’ve never looked back.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge this job will bring and I’m determined to do a fantastic job.”

The charity’s services in Hull are funded from various sources, including Humber Learning Consortium, the largest community learning provider in the Humber sub-region outside of the local authorities. The consortium aims to work in partnership to help change people’s lives through education and training.

Mencap said the level of help needed for the people it supports depends on the individual person and some may just need a helping hand to find employment.

Alongside Josh, Elliot Parkinson, 21, from West Hull, and Danielle Sunley, 25, from North Hull, have recently joined the Sewell Facilities Management team as cleaners at Endike Academy in North Hull and Freetown Court in Hull city centre respectively. The charity received funding from Talent Match Humber to look at work opportunities for the young people.

Sewell Facilities Management is part of the wider Sewell Group. From general maintenance and lifecycle planning, to preventative programmes of work and statutory compliance, the business’ local, hands-on support ensures every aspect of their buildings are safe, legal, well maintained and fit for purpose 24/7.

Kerrie White, Locality Manager for Mencap, said the partnership between Sewell Facilities Management and Mencap is proving to be a huge success.

She said: “Coming together with Sewell Facilities Management has been crucial for us in terms of showcasing what a really good, inclusive employer is, and to show just what people with a learning disability are capable of.

“This partnership means the world and makes perfect sense because we want to align ourselves with a company that shares our vision of getting more young people with a learning disability into work.

“We have seen a huge difference in Josh, Elliot and Danielle already and can see how much their confidence has grown.

“We hope that our partnership with Sewell will inspire other employers to recognise the benefits of employing people with a learning disability and encourage them to take on people with a learning disability when recruiting.”

Sewell Facilities Management staff have also supported Mencap with research into dispelling myths around working with someone with a learning disability, while also helping to raise awareness at events for young people and employers. Work experience has also been arranged for those backed by the charity.

Martin Stead, Managing Director at Sewell Facilities Management, said: “We employ from the communities for the communities we serve and learning difficulties or mental health issues should not be a barrier to this. Working in partnership with Mencap means we can offer the required support and it is fantastic for all involved.

“Josh, Danielle and Elliot are doing really well, but it’s not just one way. My team supporting them have learnt a tremendous amount too and expanded their leadership skillset.

“They can gain employment experience and we can arm them with all the tools they need to do a great job. I know Josh is really enjoying his new role at the UTC and placing him there works well because it fits in with our shared values of employment.

“We are absolutely delighted to continue the partnership Sewell Construction have nurtured with the team at Ron Dearing UTC when constructing their state-of-the-art new facilities.

“We intend to ensure they have peace of mind around the clock and that the building is always kept safe, legal, compliant and at day one quality.

“By doing this, we can ensure staff can concentrate on the day-to-day in education, creating stars of the future in this flagship learning facility.”

The Ron Dearing UTC, which opened its doors to students on September 11th, specialises in digital technology and mechatronics and is packed with £1.6 million of cutting-edge technology, with learning opportunities available for up to 600 students.

Founding Partners KCOM, RB, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group were joined by other sponsors, including Sewell Group, to see inside the impressive new school just a week before the doors opened.

Ron Dearing UTC Principal Sarah Pashley said: “We are absolutely delighted to have Sewell Facilities Management looking after our state-of-the-art new building. It’s very reassuring to know everything is covered and we can concentrate on our core business of teaching and learning so that our students make outstanding progress.

“The partnership Sewell has also created with Mencap is fantastic and it opens up so many doors to those supported by the charity.

“Having the right support to gain employment is vital, whether it be through education, or links such as this, and we very much support that.

“We wish Josh all the best in his new role and we’re really pleased he’s joined the team.”