The Pembrokeshire Supported Employment Programme is leading the way in disability employment right here on our doorstep.
The award winning service enables people with disability and employment barriers to learn a wide range of skills and be supported in a real time working environment from administration, woodworking and craft at their hub in Snowdrop Lane, Haverfordwest, to grounds maintenance, retail and catering through their partnership with Scolton Manor.
Karen Davies, Programme Manager says:“The philosophy of our programme is that it is not someone’s impairment or difference that makes a person disabled – it is the barriers that society puts in their way that creates the disability. Our aim is to remove these barriers so that everyone has the opportunity for paid employment. Currently we employ 75 people through the Supported Employment Programme. As well as employment, training is embedded across all our opportunities so that people who aspire to have a job but are not quite ready to take the leap into paid work can get the work experience and qualifications they need. This is particularly true of our We Can project which supports younger people.”
One example of this is The Station Shop based in the grounds of Scolton Manor which has a wide variety of staff with disability including autism, cerebral palsy and physical disability. Staff are supported on a daily basis to fulfil a retail role which not only gives them great experience but also boosts confidence from the daily interaction with customers. Some of the items stocked in the Station Shop are designed and made by makers based in our hub. Of notable success is Hannah and Gethin who both have autism and have created painted glassware, placemats and coasters, which featured at the 2022 Sue Kent Garden on BBC’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.
Nigel Bevans, who manages the Station Shop says:“It is a wonderful thing to witness, you see individuals who enter the programme, usually with low confidence, unsure if they are capable of holding down a role or who have been told they are unemployable. To see people thrive through experience and our support is inspirational and proves that anything is possible with a helping hand and the right support. Having gone through the system with my own disability ten years ago, I also know how valuable opportunities like these are for people and how life changing they can be”
The same concept applies for our catering department which now runs three cafes, Edies, a Victorian tearoom at Scolton Manor, Café Cyfle @ No5 in Haverfordwest and the Social Zone in Milford Haven Leisure Centre. This gives individuals the opportunity to obtain food safety qualifications, prepare foods, hot drinks and serve customers all with the appropriate support to thrive and progress.
Talog Coed is one of the service’s newer ventures based in Scolton Manor’s 30 acre woodland area. David Brock, Site Manager says:“We are very conscious that some people prefer to work outdoors and typical disability employment is highly risk adverse. The timber mill gives people the opportunity to do something a little different, from using chain saws, saw mill and log processor making green wood items available for sale. We support people so that they are safe but they get to do things that they wouldn’t be able to elsewhere.”
The Pembrokeshire Supported Employment Programme is leading the way in Wales. Pembrokeshire County Council who run the programme are currently the only local authority in Wales to be a DWP Disability Confident Leader and the programme won the Social Care Wales Accolades in 2022 for Promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.