On 26th March, Project Ambassador Jonathan and I gave a presentation about the project to young people who attended the Engage to Change evaluation event in Bangor.
We explained our roles as Ambassadors and our working relationship with project partners Agoriad. We facilitated a workshop with Tracey Drew, Member Engagement Advisor from All Wales People First, and we talked about why employers might be reluctant to take people on as employees.
On 2nd April Joe Powell and I attended an AP Cymru event in Cardiff University for Autism Awareness Week. Project partners Learning Disability Wales, ELITE Supported Employment, the National Centre for Mental Health and our collaborators Project SEARCH also attended the event.
Joe spoke about his life journey as a man with Asperger’s/Autism. I spoke about the criteria for joining the Engage to Change project as a project participant, and what’s involved as an employer on the project. I also talked about the difference between being an employer and an employment consultant on the project.
On 3rd April I co-chaired the ASD Info Wales Conference with Amara, who is a student at Swansea University. I highlighted the Engage to Change project and chatted to a lot of people during the networking breaks.
Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services, attended the event to give a presentation about the launch of the Welsh Government’s independent evaluation of the implementation and impact of the National Integrated Autism Service.
Jules Robertson was also a guest speaker at the conference. Jules has Asperger’s and is a professional actor. You may have seen some of Jules’ work. He plays a hospital porter who has Asperger’s in the BBC’s Holby City. Jules has been part of the Holby City cast since 2016. Jules and I happened to share a train journey on the way home from the conference, which was a great opportunity for a good chat and some selfies – you know I can’t resist a selfie opportunity!
On the 17th of May I attended the Cardiff People First AGM. Engage to Change lead partner Learning Disability Wales also attended. It was great to hear about the group’s upcoming busy schedule of projects and events.
They’re doing a lot of work with Pride Cymru and they’re increasing well-being and physical activity through the “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” project walks. “The Archives After Hours” is also providing work experience opportunities for people with learning disabilities.
Participants go into the Glamorgan Archives office after hours to gain work experience for various jobs there. Some members are also involved with the Gig Buddies project. It’s all about being confident to be who you want to be, staying healthy, and getting out with friends!
It was great to get some honest feedback from the Engage to Change project event in Haverfordwest. Thanks to all of you who attended and took the time to speak with Joe Powell and myself.
We’ve listened to what you had to say, and we have re-profiled the way we will do information and evaluation events in future. Through hearing what you had to say, we’ve realised how important it is to engage with people locally rather than nationally. Good communication is so important in helping people to be able to make the most of this project.
We are planning a series of regional events throughout Wales, and we’d love to hear more of what you think about the project. Please come along and talk to me and the Project Ambassadors about your hopes for the project, if you’ve had good experiences, or if things haven’t been so good for you.
The regional events will also be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the wider aims of the project. Not only is Engage to Change about work placements, it’s about building a legacy to change attitudes and policy around employing people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
Project Ambassador Elsa attended the first of our regional events in North Wales on 17th June.