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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

The struggle to find work when you have Down's syndrome

Date: 12/5/2015
Summary: Fewer than two in 10 people with learning disabilities are in employment. For people with Down's syndrome, it can leave them demoralised - but are things changing?

"I have a friend with [Down's syndrome] who actually pays someone £40 just so they can do his gardening [for him]," says Kate Brackley.

Ms Brackley is one of around 40,000 people living with Down's syndrome in the UK. Unlike many others, she is in paid employment.

 Research from the charity Mencap suggests 65% of people with learning disabilities - including, though not limited to, Down's syndrome - want to work, but fewer than 20% of those of working age are currently in employment.

Some are desperate to gain experience of work - though the story of Ms Brackley's friend is not a practice Mencap had previously come across.

Conventional voluntary work, however, is an avenue many people with the condition explore.

Sara Pickard - who also has Down's syndrome - says volunteering can be a way to demonstrate skills that could be used in the workplace.

 Ms Pickard has been working for the charity Mencap Cymru for nine years, and often visits employers as part of her role.

She believes "the big bosses don't always necessarily know what people with learning disabilities are capable of doing."

"We try and show them this is what people with a learning disability can do, and this is how easy it is for them to get them in things like employment," she says.

Just meeting her, she says, can help to change people's perception. "They see that if I can do it, others can."

She believes there is a general "ignorance" in society towards people with learning difficulties, of which the views of employers may be a product.

"The public don't know about Down's syndrome," she explains, adding that some people even seem scared of those with the condition.

"They're seeing someone who is different and [project] their own stereotypical view," she adds.

Source BBC News


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