A rapidly-expanding facilities management company is opening its doors for a northern seminar, highlighting best practice for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

Sewell Facilities Management, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will host the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) North Region event at its Sewell Studio base in Geneva Way, East Hull, on Thursday, May 23rd.

One of the main focuses of the event will be on Abilities in Facilities, a partnership originally established between Sewell Facilities Management and the Humber branch of the national charity Mencap in 2017.

Since then, more than 30 individuals with a learning disability or difference have been given paid cleaning roles, or work experience, across Sewell sites, including integrating into Sewell teams at schools, offices and health centres.

Those involved in the project have autism, mild and moderate learning disability and mild learning differences, and Sewell staff have completed specific training to help them progress and feel supported in their roles as they looked to secure opportunities in the world of work.

Abilities in Facilities won IWFM’s Impact on Society award at the IWFM 2018 Awards held in London in October last year, shining a national spotlight on a partnership of best practice, which stemmed from grassroots relationships locally.

Martin Stead, Managing Director at Sewell Facilities Management, will speak at the seminar, alongside I.C.E. Ability founder Kerrie White, who was also instrumental in establishing Abilities in Facilities, and the event will be compered by IWFM North committee member Lee Cooper.

Sewell Group Chairman Dr Paul Sewell OBE, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Skills Board Professional Gill Dillon MBE, Thrive Law’s Jody Hill, and Hull disability blogger Kai Gill, will also speak, offering the audience a true insight into inclusion and diversity in the workplace on many levels.

Martin said: “We are delighted to host this seminar and help to raise awareness of the major positive impact Abilities in Facilities continues to have.

“This unique programme is something we are incredibly proud of and it is undoubtedly something which other people can easily adopt within their own organisations.

“There is no barrier to success if people are supported in the right way and given opportunities to help them thrive in a working environment.

“Winning the IWFM Impact on Society award last year was a key milestone in how far Abilities in Facilities has come and our ultimate goal is to have an individual with a learning disability in all of our teams across Yorkshire.

“Alongside the other wonderful speakers at this seminar, we will be able to showcase exactly how the programme works and the impact it has had.

“We want this to be a fun, interactive and engaging event for everyone involved.”

Networking opportunities and refreshments will be included in the event, which is free for anyone to attend.

Case studies will be used to highlight positive examples of how Abilities in Facilities has transformed the lives of individuals involved in the programme.

This includes Elliot Parkinson, who was diagnosed with a developmental coordination disorder and autism at the age of two.

He was struggling to find a job which suited his need for a routine and had made several visits to the job centre, as well as taking on various work experience opportunities, leaving him feeling all roads led to nothing.

Thanks to Abilities in Facilities, Elliot secured an eight-week work trial with Sewell Facilities Management, carrying out cleaning responsibilities and playing a general role within the team. Now, two years on, Elliot is still working part-time for Sewell Facilities Management at a Hull Primary School and said paid employment has given him a new outlook on life, boosting his confidence and improving his communication skills.

Kerrie said: “Abilities in Facilities is the best practice template and it really does work.

“It’s about having honest conversations around what employers can do to give individuals with learning disabilities and differences opportunities, cutting the red tape, thinking outside the box and investing in the next generation.

“Our young people can enhance the culture of an organisation, which we’ve seen first-hand at Sewell Facilities Management.

“This IWFM event will enable us to show what we set out to do, what we have achieved and how that can create a ripple effect, and get people talking.”

To book your place at the IWFM North event, which runs from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday, May 23, please visit the website here.

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