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Engage to Change Lead Ambassador Gerraint Jones-Griffiths has been busy as usual over the last couple of months! Gerraint started his Engage to Change journey with a paid work placement as an administrator, which he then sustained into paid employment. Gerraint’s experience with the project and his strengths in public speaking and networking made him an ideal candidate for Lead Ambassador, and he was subsequently employed in this role by project partner All Wales People First.

Learning Disability Work Week is an apt time to remember just how far Gerraint has come since beginning his Engage to Change journey in 2016. Now he travels around Wales promoting the project to everyone from his peers, to parents, to politicians. Here’s a taste of what he’s been up to since September.

On 18th September I attended First Aid training in Cardiff Bay.

On 19th September I attended a project Roadshow planning meeting at Learning Disability Wales.

On 21st September I compered a charity event in Penarth as I mentioned in my August Blog. It was a great event with excellent turnout.

On 23rd September I attended an All Wales People First team development day at the Village Hotel in Cardiff. It was nice to hear how the team think of one another. I designed a one-page profile template, which other team members used to create their own profiles.

On 24th September I attended an Engage to Change project Roadshow event in Ebbw Vale. It was good to see Blaenau Gwent Councillors in attendance. I delivered a presentation on what we do as Project Ambassadors.

On 25th September I attended the Engage to Change project Roadshow event in Carmarthen. I delivered the Roadshow presentation on what we do as Project Ambassadors. Attending the event gave me an excellent opportunity to network with employers, project participants and their families. It was great to see how a young project participant and his family had benefitted through participation in the Engage to Change project.

On 27th September I attended The Autism Directory Live show in Cardiff. It was a very good event. I got a lot out of attending. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with the ASD Wales team, with whom I will be doing a work placement.

October was a very busy month for me as the Project Lead Ambassador!

On 3rd October I attended the LGBT Cross Party Group which took place at Mencap in Cardiff. Joe (Powell) and I fed back about our experience on the All Wales People First stand at Pride Cymru.

Throughout October I took part in a work placement with the National Autism Team in Cardiff.

I did some admin and helped to audit the organisation’s easy read resources. I also gave some recommendations about some posts for their Facebook page.

The placement was great for developing my self-confidence as my supervisors realised as soon as I started that my admin skills were more advanced than they had realised. This enabled me to progress with some wider experience within their organisation.

On 21st October I was asked by the National Autism Team to deliver my case study to the Integrated Autism Service – Western Bay Branch. The feedback I received was really positive, and several delegates said my presentation was ‘inspiring’ and ‘valuable’. They said it was good how open I am about my experience of autism, and they were keen to forge links with me in my role as Lead Ambassador for the Engage to Change project.

On 16th October I attended a Disability Sexual Relationships training course in Mencap, Cardiff. The day was very informative. We looked at the importance of accessibility of courses when delivering training to people with learning disabilities.

On 17th and 18th October I attended the All Wales People First AdFest event.

On 17th October I welcomed delegates as they arrived and then managed the roving mic for the morning speakers. I did lots of networking throughout the day. I also chatted with the Guest speaker Julie Morgan AM Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services.

On 18th I hosted the Cinema room workshop, which ran on a drop- in basis for most of the day. I made a note of delegate feedback about the workshop, which will inform the organisation’s conference report, and the design of any future workshops.