Wincanton Staffordshire.
Ben Matthews who works as a dispatcher at Screwfix as part of the Mencap internship programme. 

Logistics firm recognised as an outstanding employer for supporting young people with SEND 

2 mins read

Wincanton has been recognised by Staffordshire County Council and learning disability charity Mencap as an Outstanding Employer in supporting young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). 

The logistics firm has received the praise in relation to extended work placements that have taken place at Wincanton Screwfix at Trentham Lakes, in Stoke-on-Trent, as part of a supported internships programme. 

The government-funded scheme, coordinated by the county council and supported by training provider Mencap, is a work-based study programme for 16 to 24-year-olds, where learners spend time both with an education provider and in the workplace, supported by a job coach. 

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader, Philip White, said: “Young people with SEND typically face more barriers in the workplace than the average employee. This is why we are committed to supporting them into employment by helping to increase invaluable training opportunities across Staffordshire under the supported internships programme.   

“I want to thank Wincanton and all the other outstanding Staffordshire businesses who have been championing young people with SEND, and I strongly urge businesses to sign up to the programme.” 

Ben Matthews, 21, has been working as a dispatcher at Screwfix since November as part of the Mencap internship programme.  

He said: “When I first walked in, I was very shy and nervous. Now, getting the uniform and being part of a massive team, confidence in me has grown from head to toe completely. I am very excited to come back to work every day. I always feel welcomed here and it has been an absolute honour to work here.  

“The best part of my placement is when I practiced on the trucks, this was very cool!” 

Wincanton employees with the Outstanding Employer award received for supporting young people with special education needs and disabilities.

Equality, diversion and inclusion lead at Wincanton, Gez Prendergast, said: “It’s a real privilege for the work that we’ve undertaken to be recognised.  

“I have seen people from a SEND background achieve employment and the care and passion of the people supporting them is infectious. The whole business and, most importantly, the person themselves gain experience and an understanding of how to adapt style and approach. 

WA lot of our teams haven’t had a chance to work with people from a SEND background anywhere else so the realisation that it’s all positive is amazing.”  

The supported internships programme is government-funded with no cost to businesses. There is full support from the education and training provider throughout the placement and there is no requirement to offer employment when a placement ends. 

Programme coordinator at Mencap, Alix Barefoot, added: “It has been wonderful to see the progress that Ben has made at Wincanton branch in Trentham. 

“The training team have gone above and beyond to develop the students in their warehouse roles, ensuring they are matched with the right buddy and have the opportunity to explore different roles within the warehouse to find the most suitable one for each individual.  

“I feel it is important for businesses to be part of the Supported Internship programme, as this is a great alternative to recruiting new employees, as although it is a more long-term avenue, it is a way to ensure you have long-term, loyal members of staff who are so passionate about the work they do.” 

If you want to learn more about the programme, click here

Hayley Johnson

Senior journalist with over 15 years’ experience writing for customers and audiences all over the world. Previous work has included everything from breaking news for national newspapers to complex business stories, in-depth human-interest features and celebrity interviews - and most things in between.

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