2018 Award Winners

2018 Award Winners


Team of the Year

Sponsored by Working Links

Kent Supported Employment

Over the last three years Kent Supported Employment (KSE) has transformed a good service into an excellent outcome driven service with clients at the very centre. The passion from the team has ensured that KSE has become a highly regarded service.

64% of all clients referred to the service have achieved paid employment. 87% of those clients sustain the role for 6 months or more.

Kent is one of the authorities delivering DWP’s Supported Employment proof of concept. Their model fidelity audit scored an amazing 98% demonstrating how the principles of supported employment are at the very heart of everything they do.

The service is delivering 40 supported apprenticeships across Kent over the next 3 years as part of the national pacesetters group and working with local schools, colleges and training providers to deliver supported internships across Kent and Medway.

The service has developed and delivered a primary school careers package to raise aspirations for clients and parents at a younger age. They’ve also designed programmes to support people in in Years 11 to 14 and adults using local day services.

Kent Supported Employment has been unstinting in sharing their knowledge, processes and policies with other providers. The team continues to expand, despite the difficult financial environment; testament to their quality, achievements and partnership working.


Highly commended: Sixteen Cooperative Ltd

Established in Bristol in 2011, the team has grown in size from a single job coach to a team of eleven practitioners who support a range of community, educational, retention and enterprise programmes. The team currently supports around 150 people on their pathway to and into work.

Across all programmes, individuals are enthused to aim high while employers are supported to widen their talent pool, consider alternative recruitment and selection processes, and make reasonable adjustments get the best out of their disabled colleagues.

The co-operative maintains an enviable track record of securing paid employment for their job seekers, 23 jobs were secure in 2017-18, of which 70% were for over 16 hours per week. 24 jobs and apprenticeships have been secured since April 2018. Outcomes from internship programmes range between 70% and 100%.

Their approach is simple and consistent; offer good quality, evidence-based practice, celebrate the business case to supporting people with a learning disability and deliver it with energy and efficiency.


Highly commended: Oxfordshire Employment Service

Oxfordshire's Employment Support Team delivers a range of contracted provision including Work Choice, SES and Supported Internships. It also has a Supported Business, County Print Finishers.

The service has galvanised local colleges, council support services, voluntary organisations and employers over the last three years to deliver a highly successful Supported Internship programme. They have delivered strong outcomes with 66% of interns securing paid employment. Anyone not achieving employment at the end of delivery has a support pathway to continue their journey. As a result, employment continues to grow, whilst their successful in-work support, funded through Access to Work, allows them to revisit an individual’s support when needed so they can sustain work. They are moving on to support young people with social, emotional and mental health needs over the coming year.

At the Supported Business, 45% of new starts progress on to external employment and the service has been at the forefront of national work to gain continued funding for Supported Businesses.


Practitioner of the Year

Mitch Mitchell (Kent Supported Employment)

Mitch has worked for Kent Supported Employment for 25 years and his passion has never waned, in fact his dedication and enthusiasm for supporting clients grows every day. He began with the service as a Job Coach and has progressed to an Employment Support Officer and the service lead for training.

He has led the whole team in terms of supporting the Proof of Concept contract. To date he has personally secured paid employment of 16 hours a week or more for 7 clients just on this contract. Mitch also has an extensive caseload of clients on other contracts. 

Mitch is also the lead on working with Kent NHS Trusts helping them meet their pledge to employ more staff with disabilities. The results have been significant, and he has trained over 55 managers in disability awareness and given them the confidence to expand the diversity of their workforce. This work has also extended to job carving roles within the organisation to create new roles for clients with learning difficulties. 

Mitch delivers extensive training. This includes Systematic Instruction training with schools, colleges, training providers, internal staff and staff from other local authorities. The feedback the service receives is always exceptional.

The latest work in Mitch’s portfolio includes designing and delivering a programme on bespoke travel training for all school age students approaching post 16 in Medway. He is also leading on training over 60 people in TSI over the next year as part of Kent’s Preparing for Employment Grant.


Highly commended: Paul Hanman (Swindon Borough Council)

Despite experiencing macular degeneration from the age of 18, Paul has put the disappointment of 400 unsucessful job applications behind him and, with the help of Pluss, began work with Swindon Borough Council on the Building Bridges Programme as the keyworker for the programme.

Paul’s impact on the programme was instant and customers who worked with Paul realised that having a disability was not a reason to stay at home. Over the last few years Paul has supported over 100 people into work many of which are still employed now. 

Despite the barriers facing customers Paul always manages to inspire them which in turn increases their confidence and self-belief. Paul works tirelessly and faultlessly driving the programme forward ensuing that customer interests and needs are at the forefront of everything he does.


Highly commended: Nik Galanis (London Borough of Hackney Council)

Nik is unusual in being nominated by two local authorites; Hounslow and Hackney.

Nik has been instrumental in setting up Hounslow Business Advisory Committee, a group of employers who came together to act as ambassadors of the internships programme and offer paid opportunities for young people with learning disabilities. 

He also organised and led the first Pan-London Supported Internship Network which helped practitioners become more aware of their practice, led to the development of networks and eventually helped organisations to secure more meaningful paid employment opportunities for their clients. He organised and led disability awareness and job coaching training for senior managers and staff within Hounslow council which led to a series of work placements.

Nik has been in post with Hackney Council for just over 6 months. During this short time, Nik has worked with over 55 clients, supporting 12 into paid employment. Nik has a clear aptitude for employer engagement, with over 40% of his employment outcomes achieved directly through independent work with employers. Employers describe Nik's "contagious passion for social equality and his willingness to go above and beyond". He's a practitioner who is striving for, and successful at creating, a more equal society for people with disabilities.


Award for Best Employer Practice

Wiltshire Police

Nominated by WorkFit, Wiltshire Police are the first police force in the country to gain Level 3 Disability Confident Leader status. They take a proactive approach, focussing on ability rather than disability, to help people achieve their aspirations.

They have demonstrated significant commitment to helping people with disability to gain employment, retain their work and develop their careers. To date they have welcomed four people with Down’s syndrome through the WorkFit programme in paid and work experience roles. They also employ a number of people with visual impairments.

Luke is employed in the Communications Centre at Police HQ in Devizes and the force has supported him to achieve a City & Guilds qualification in “Employability Skills”. Jeremy also works in Devizes as part of the Driver Support Unit and has assisted the Video team. 

Over thirty staff and officers have received WorkFit training at four sites across Wiltshire and Swindon. The force has implemented a culture of support for inclusion and, at the national Black Police Conference in Swindon, Chief Constable Kier Pritchard spoke about the positive influence that Luke had had on his understanding of the value that people with Down’s syndrome bring to Wiltshire Police.

They have advocated tirelessly for those with disabilities including talking to other forces across England, many of whom are now engaged with WorkFit and offering opportunities in their own areas.


Award for Innovative Practice

Gateway Employment Support Service (Croydon Council)

The team of four staff has a very creative, community based approach and “can do” attitude to supported employment for Croydon’s disabled residents.

They established the All About Me shop on a budget of £2000, to give 12 residents with disabilities the opportunity to gain valuable retail experience and a level one qualification in retail. The stock has all been produced by local artisans with disabilities and the Brit School, local colleges and Special Schools also provided items for sale. 

They have organised Reverse Job Fairs with 60 residents with disabilities showcasing their skills. This led to 10 job outcomes and 15 work experience placements.

Working with Status Employment and Tree Shepherd, their Self-Employment Academy has supported 15 residents with disabilities using direct payments. Some have been very successful in starting their own business and continue to receive support. A second Academy is planned to start soon.

The service helped to co-produce Books Beyond Words – a series of picture-based stories used to raise aspirations around work and volunteering. 

Their #IAMANARTIST event hosted a fantastic night of entertainment, giving over 15 residents with various disabilities, the chance to follow their dreams of performing in front of an audience of 150. There was singers, bands, dancers, artists and actors showcasing their talents. This has since lead to job opportunities, the highlight being one of their residents modelling in Italian Vogue!


David Grainger Award

Simon Bould (Vision Products)

Simon has truly been on a life-changing journey since leaving school, Ysgol Hen Felin, 10 years ago to start work as an apprentice with Vision Products. 

At the start, he was very shy, struggled with literacy and numeracy and consequently found it difficult to follow instruction. With workplace adjustments and the use of visual aids, Simon’s enthusiasm shone through.

Over time, and with determination and perseverance, Simon’s communication skills developed and he’s now a very capable individual who produces high quality work.

Due to Simon’s success, the supported apprenticeship scheme for young people was extended and is still in operation today. Without Simon making such a success of the pilot scheme, this would not have been possible.

His journey has not always been easy but Simon has become the lynch pin for the Specialist Children’s Equipment Team, a service recognized by the Welsh Government as a Service of Excellence.

He has been on multiple specialist courses across the UK and continues to develop his knowledge and skill set. Simon is now an expert in this field and works both in the community and in-house. He assists in assessments, refurbishes equipment and handles queries from therapists. His contribution means that cost savings are made annually in excess of £200,000 by building complex equipment with recycled parts.

His confidence has grown to such an extent that he has mentored other young people and has another member of staff working in his team, to whom he provides direction and support. He is seen as a reliable member of the team who people often go to for advice and support.

Work is not his only interest. Simon has participated in the Special Olympics, winning multiple gold medals.


Learner of the Year

David Almarza Diaz (The Michael Tippett College)

David was a delight during the taught days of the course. He actively participated and quickly grasped the information given, which he reflected in his imaginative and creative statements.

David has taken his learning into his workplace to the benefit of the students of The Michael Tippett College and their families. There is now a large electronic display board showing the core values of supported employment In the college’s reception area and he’s cascaded his learning to other staff members. David is training and supporting colleagues to understand what "In-work support" means and why it is important to follow the same approach at college when they teach practical tasks. 

He drives the team to do all they can to raise the aspirations of their students and they are now working to achieve the Gatsby Benchmarks by 2020.

He told his assessor, “I think raising aspirations is one of the biggest achievements of the college. Getting a job is something that many of our students and their families had just not thought about. In most cases that is in part because nobody had ever told them they can get one”.

David exemplifies how the Level 3 certificate course can lead directly to improved practice and he’s a well-deserved winner of this award.