Meet two Barnsley employees as part of Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit program

When Jordan is asked what he likes about his job as a warehouse operator at GXO Logistics’ center in Barnsley, he smiles and says “getting paid”.

When he started his role there in 2019, his main goal was to save up to take his mother on a cruise.

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They now plan to go later this year, a feat that inspires him with happiness and pride.

Luke works as a catering assistant at the GXO center in Barnsley. Photo: Darren Casey, DCimaging.

Jordan, who The Yorkshire Post was asked to refer to by his first name only, is involved in WorkFit, a Down’s Syndrome Association (DSA) employment scheme.

It connects job seekers with Down syndrome with employers across the country.

Working with ASOS, GXO and DSA have developed long-term paid employment for people with Down syndrome at the GXO/ASOS distribution center in Barnsley, where over 4,000 staff are based.

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There are four team members who have joined and grown their careers through the GXO and WorkFit partnership.

Luke, a restaurant assistant is one of them. He helps look after his many colleagues, taking on roles such as preparing food, displaying fruit, and washing pots.

“I like working here because I like all the staff,” he says. “I love to cook and in the future I would like to be a chef.”

Luke and Jordan are supported by a buddy and a dedicated WorkFit agent supports job seekers and employers every step of the way.

The WorkFit program matches the business needs of employers with the hopes and ambitions of job seekers, helping them to be more independent, learn new skills, meet new people, earn money and grow their self-esteem.

Some people want paid employment; some people want to volunteer or gain work experience in different sectors so they can decide what is best for them.

GXO has over 20 candidates working nationwide through the WorkFit program.

Gavin Williams, Managing Director of GXO UK & Ireland, said: “Our colleagues who have completed the WorkFit program are exceptional and highly valued team members.

“Our partnership with WorkFit is all about championing inclusion and developing meaningful, sustainable long-term jobs and ensuring our colleagues are fully onboarded and part of the team.”

Tom Byrne, Head of Corporate Responsibility at ASOS, adds: “The GXO WorkFit partnership at ASOS Barnsley is a fantastic example of how everyone can find opportunities to grow and succeed in the workplace and become valuable team members.

“We encourage other companies to explore partnerships like this and discover the benefits of hiring diverse talent in their workforces.”

At Barnsley, Luke and Jordan enjoy being part of the workforce.

Luke describes how eager he was to get back to work after the Covid-19 shutdowns, having spent more than six months away from the business.

” I’m annoyed. I wanted to do something,” he says.

For the 25-year-old, the WorkFit program has also brought new enjoyment to his life.

He met his girlfriend Emily through the scheme and the pair have spoken about how they want to “grow old together”.

Reflecting on the program, Alison Thwaite, WorkFit Employment Development Manager at DSA, says, “GXO’s partnership with the WorkFit program has been incredibly successful and their support of our work has been exceptional. It’s great to see so many candidates welcomed and developed across the organization, in different roles, across the country.

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