National award win for ‘Abilities in Facilities’ with Sewell Facilities Management and Mencap partnership

A Hull-based Facilities Management (FM) team has been presented with a national award thanks to a partnership with a local branch of a national charity.

The coveted Impact on Society award was presented to the Sewell FM and Mencap team for their ‘Abilities in Facilities’ project, on Monday evening at the national BIFM awards ceremony, held at Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

The awards reflect the outstanding people, projects, initiatives and innovations happening in facilities management. The Impact on Society award is given to recognise “exceptional benefit to society created and delivered by a facilities management team through excellent FM practice or as part of a social responsibility initiative”.

Judges were looking for evidence of the positive impact made on the social fabric of a community or the well-being of individuals or families. The projects shortlisted had to benefit the well-being of individuals, the economic health of communities, the quality of the local environment, or be assisting in the alleviation of a specific social problem.

Sewell FM’s ‘Abilities in Facilities’ partnership with the Humber branch of national charity Mencap was chosen out of three shortlisted as the winning bid after creating paid employment and training opportunities for individuals with a learning disability.

Since the Abilities in Facilities partnership began in April 2017, about 30 people from the charity have directly benefited, with four gaining paid cleaning jobs in offices and schools across Hull, and others benefiting from work experience opportunities or learning interview techniques to help them progress into work elsewhere. Work experience placements include some individuals based at the new £9 million Jean Bishop Integrated Care Centre built by Sewell in East Hull.

The 30 individuals have autism, mild and moderate learning disability, and mild learning differences, and staff have undergone specific training to help them progress and feel supported within their roles, opening up secure opportunities in the world of work.

Our Sewell Facilities Management staff have also taken part in a local feasibility study and supported Mencap with dispelling myths around working with someone with a learning disability, while also helping to raise awareness at events for young people and employers.

Sewell Facilities Management offers specific vacancies to individuals from Mencap and ensures they feel comfortable in the interview and work trial environment, with the long term objective to eventually have individuals from Mencap in every Sewell Facilities Management cleaning team across the Yorkshire region.

One of the project’s success stories, Elliott Parkinson, was struggling to find a job that suited his need for a routine. He had visited the job centre and taken part in various work experience programmes but all seemed to lead to nothing.

After being referred to Mencap, they helped him find an eight week work trial with Sewell FM and a year later he is still working for the company, as part of the cleaning team at a Hull primary school, much to the delight of his mum.

Tracey Parkinson, Elliott’s mum, said: “The change in him is unbelievable. It’s not only helping him feeling like he’s fitting in, he’s part of society, he’s helping us as a family.

“We haven’t got that worry of what is next for him. He’s getting a pay packet every week which is just unbelieveable. He feels like he actually fits. I can’t thank Sewell and Mencap enough for what they’ve done for my son. And us as a family.”

Elliott Parkinson said: “I think the main thing is my confidence. My confidence has definitely built up and my communication skills has really improved. Before I was a bit shy about speaking to people but I’ve been more confident to speak to the people who I’ve worked with here.

Managing Director of Sewell FM, Martin Stead, said: “The individuals who have been involved in Abilities in Facilities have really grown in confidence and self-esteem since the partnership began, which is fantastic to see.

“We’re incredibly proud of what has been achieved so far and we’re looking forward to building on it. For us the award is an outstanding achievement but the work doesn’t stop here. We know other businesses could do the same and we’d love to share how Abilities in Facilities works if anyone would be interested in learning more.

“This partnership has the potential to be an even bigger success and we’d love to see that happen for Mencap and those they support.

“Our long term objective is to eventually have individuals from Mencap in every Sewell Facilities Management cleaning team across the Yorkshire region.”

Mencap Humber’s locality manager, Kerrie White, said: “Facilities management seems to be an untapped resource for recruiting the people that Mencap help, like Elliott. The success of the partnership, and the national award recognition only further highlights that.

“Our Mencap Lifestyle and Work team would be thrilled to speak to other FM providers about working together to continue this important work.

“We are always happy to help facilitate connections like the ones we’ve made through abilities in facilities. Whether this is people looking for work or making ourselves available to other local employers to assist in recruitment.

“This award recognises Sewell FM’s complete commitment to working with us and the full support they have given to the young people involved. For us, it’s making a massive difference. I look at Elliot and other’s on the team and see how much they’ve progressed within the Sewell family.”

Elliott’s story:

Carrick’s story: