Category Archives: News

JOB opportunity Workfit Employment Liaison Officer Swindon

The Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit programme is looking to recruit an Employment Liaison Officer for Swindon and the surrounding areas. You will be responsible for implementing a one year plan for supporting people with Down’s syndrome to access the work place.

Closing date for applications: Sunday 21st July, 5pm. Interviews will take place on Tuesday 30th July 2019. 

To apply, please send a covering letter and a copy of your CV to Alison Thwaite If you have any questions and you would like an information discussion before applying, please call Alison Thwaite on 07973 612720. 

Download full details here.

Todd gets paid employment at Coles Scaffolding

Potential employers are never too far away. In Todd’s case an old family friend gave in to Todd’s persistence a few months ago. Martyn Coles the owner of Coles Scaffolding Contractors Limited had been nagged by Todd for some work experience. Eventually, as Martyn said “I decided to give him a chance”.

This chance has been so successful that Martyn now wants to make Todd’s position permanent. Todd’s mother Vicky, who has been a long standing member of the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group contacted Jonathan Grew the Swindon Employment Liaison officer for WorkFit so that Todd and Cole’s Scaffolding could become part of the WorkFit programme.

Although Todd is “part of the furniture” Martyn welcomed the opportunity for his team to have WorkFit training to further their support for Todd. In turn Vicky has found it helpful to understand from Jonathan the paperwork that needs to be put in place prior to full employment, as did Martyn.

Todd working at Coles Scaffolding

Gablecross welcome their next workfit candidate

At the end of 2018 the police team at Gablecross welcomed their second Swindon WorkFit placement. Vivian has a twelve month work experience placement at Gablecross Police Station working on the front desk. 

Jonathan, our WorkFit Liaison Officer, worked closely with the team that support Vivian, providing training and guidance ahead of her start. Jonathan’s role is to help employers to unlock the potential of people with Down’s syndrome in the workplace.

Vivian has been assigned an in-work buddy who will work alongside her in her role. Joe Beattie who heads up the in-work buddy system at Gablecross, said “The WorkFit training has been invaluable. It has given us a better understanding in general about Down’s syndrome.”

To find our more about WorkFit please email

Baby & toddler mornings

We’d like to invite families with children aged 7 and under and their siblings along to our baby and toddler mornings at the Churchill Pub in Wootton Bassett. The Churchill has its very own large multi-level soft play suitable for babies, toddlers and young children. It’s a great opportunity to chat to other mums and dads as well as letting your little ones (if they’re big enough) explore the soft play. We’d love to see you there!

Group Open day & agm a huge success

Thank you to everyone who came along to our open day on Saturday. It was fantastic to see so many of you there and spend time chatting with you. We must say a massive thank you to Mandy McAlpine and Marina Billinge-Jones for baking the most amazing cakes for everyone to enjoy. Thank you to Michael Billinge-Jones for starting the cake auction and taking photographs. And finally, thank you to 
@SwindonSENDfamiliesvoice and Swindon Interactive Arts Service (SWIAS) for coming along and meeting our members.

Wiltshire Police take on the Swindon DSActive football team

Article taken from DSA website

Wiltshire Police put their reputation on the line to take on the Swindon DSActive football team in a ‘friendly’ match at Wiltshire Police HQ. It was great to see so many people there on the day offering their support and it was great match practice for the DSActive team.

Wiltshire Police have always been fantastic at supporting the Down’s Syndrome Association, whether it’s getting behind the #LotsOfSocks campaign, employing people with Down’s syndrome through WorkFit and now supporting the local DSActive team. It was great to see so many people there from the police force, many coming in during their days off, and they were pushed very hard by the Swindon team.

The day started with a warm up to get everyone ready to play and meet the players on each team. The teams then played three hard fought matches, the first one was Wiltshire Police vs Swindon DSActive, and then the teams were mixed to make sure everyone got a game. There were goals flying in from every direction, celebrations worthy of someone who had just won the World Cup, and everything was played in a fantastic spirit.

Alex from the DSActive team said:

“It was a really fantastic day and great to be part of. I want to say a huge thank you to Wiltshire Police for hosting the day, a big thank you to WorkFit EDO Jonathan and his family for all their hard work, thank you to Louisa for the photos and Swindon Down’s Syndrome Support Group for their help and support. I’m looking forward to the re-match next year!”

Free Down’s syndrome, ageing and dementia training day

We are hosting a FREE one-day training course on Down’s syndrome, ageing and dementia. The Swindon Down’s syndrome Group in conjunction with the DSA will be hosting this one-day course.

The course will provide those supporting adults with Down’s syndrome to understand the importance of recognising possible signs of the onset of dementia and the need to take a differential diagnosis approach – is it, in fact, dementia or what other possible causes of changes in individuals’ functioning and wellbeing need to be considered?

You will then hear about the ‘philosophy of good care’ and learn practical strategies to ensure that individuals are well supported and their changing care needs are addressed.

For more information email

Tell it Right.® Start it Right. Training comes to Swindon

‘Tell It Right® Start it Right’ is an initiative created by the Down’s Syndrome Association. Since 2010 they have been delivering training days to antenatal screening coordinators and midwifery services throughout England and Wales.  The aim is to ensure that health professionals have up to date, accurate and balanced information about living with Down’s syndrome.  

On 13 November, over 60 midwives and health professionals from Swindon and the surrounding area took part in the study day which is accredited by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). The hope is the training will improve the way that new parents are told that their baby has Down’s syndrome and assist them to support expectant parents through the screening process by sharing the information in a non-directive manner.

The Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group are facilitating the training in our local area. “We know first hand what it’s like to find out your baby has Down’s syndrome. To be offered a termination or told your child will be “a burden” is not what you want to hear moments after your child is born.

It’s so important to hear a balanced view, find out what life is really like for someone with Down’s syndrome. It’s every families right to make a decision about what’s right for them, but they cannot do that without all the information. We want to support women and their families at whatever stage they are at in their pregnancy to understand more about Down’s syndrome.”

Midwives got to hear real life experiences from parents from the Group, with many midwives commenting how powerful the parents’ input had been.  They listened to a speech from one of the Group’s young people on what it’s like to have Down’s syndrome. 

New parents may have lots of questions or feel rather overwhelmed by what it means to have a baby with Down’s syndrome. It can be difficult at first to see past the diagnosis which is completely normal. 

The Group had on display their new parent congratulation packs. The packs are given to new parents on the birth of their baby. Michelle James, New Parent Contact for the Group said “I wanted the packs to celebrate the birth of the new baby and not overwhelm them with information. The pack has gifts for the baby, a blanket, milestone cards, congratulations card plus some information about Down’s syndrome.” The packs will be available at the Great Western Hospital and will be given out by the midwifery teams. 

There was a real sense of engagement and positivity throughout the day, with many midwives chatting to parents and trustees from the local charity. Cailey Whitcher, Trustee of the local charity said “We hope the midwives found the day to be a valuable experience, something they can apply to their professional practice and something they will share with their colleagues at the Great Western Hospital.”

Jo’s Blog 2018 Day Five

Day five, well where did that all go? Two weekends gone in a flash and with so many fantastic memories to take with us.
First a huge thank you to the group for the incredible book and t-shirt. What an amazing way to celebrate the 10th Salamander course. I know every young person will wear their shirt with pride as they have achieved so much in the 5 days. From a nervous start to a fabulous finish.
I need to thank the young people for their hard work and dedication. This year we accomplished so much. A fear of heights was overcome, the dark in the smoke house is not so bad after all, Coate Water wasn’t as cold as you expect and swimming to the other side is fine. Climbing to the top of the ladder and down again is always good when your team mates are there footing the ladder and telling you well done. All these things can be achieved with support from friends and determination from the young people. And they did!
So as usual we started the day with a great breakfast. Thank you Nicky for getting into work so very, very early to cook for us, everyone loved the eggs, bacon, sausage, beans and toast and some loved it so much they went back for seconds! Once the plates were cleaned it was down to changed ready to practice the show. It’s at this point the rain starts!! Once in kit it was into the classroom to go over the jobs the teams were doing.
Rain didn’t stop the high spirts and excitement of the up and coming show. The RTC was run through and everyone was happy with their jobs. Next the second part of the show was rehearsed and again it was if they had been doing this all their lives. They are confident and ready to show their families what they have learnt on the course. At no point did any of them complain about the weather, they were having fun, so no one was bothered.
I hope you enjoyed the show as much as we all did. I am so proud of them all. Next weekend isn’t going to be the same without seeing them.
I would like to thank Ed & Mike from the Police who were fantastic with all the young people. You were both a hit from day one. Nothing bothered you even when you can hear your name over and over again (Mike.) I think you both have a permeant fan club now. Thank you both for helping where needed but not doing it for them. You are both so patient with every single one of them. Thank you for giving reassurance and encouragement where need.
To all the Firefighters who put so much into this course to make it the incredible experience it is for each and every person who attends. Steve, Liam, Nathan, Nev, Sean, Martin, Dan, Ben, and Daryl. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all my heroes, for putting up with me as well as our young people. Each one of you adapts to what is needed from your team each day. Your patience is wonderful, even when all around it seems like chaos!
Jo, thank you for your support this week, you have been incredible. Nothing is ever to much trouble and you have gained some new friends as well as seeing old friends. Thank you for being hands on and taking part in all those things you thought you may just stand and watch, they all loved you for being involved. I think there may have been some firsts for you this course as well!!
Mark, the man who makes this course the best course you have ever seen. The person who doesn’t believe in boundaries and pushes every young person to the next level to ensure they have achieved everything they can. You are fantastic with every single participant, nothing is too much trouble and if an activity needs changing a little so a young person can benefit from it, you do that and that means the world to them.
I’m not sure what we had in mind 10 courses ago when you were approached to do this, but I know that this now far out does anything I could have ever imagined. It is better than anyone could have the thought. I don’t think you really know what you mean to our young people. You have made dreams come true.
Nicky, we would not be celebrating 10 fantastic courses without your determination to provide something that would be so very different and challenging. You had the confidence in our young people and wow, it has really blown all expectations. This is the best course of its kind and it’s down to your belief in people with Downs, showing the world that there is nothing they can’t do if a little time, belief and patience is shown. Thank you for putting up with me all these years and thank you for letting me be part of this amazing experience.
So I say goodnight to you all for another year and thank you all for letting me part in these incredible courses and be part of your young peoples lives.

I raise a glass. x