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"Inspirational" Brogan highlighted as a role model in government report

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 August 2011

Brogan Johnston, who has Down's Syndrome, has been singled out as a role model in a report to the government intended to encourage people with disabilities into employment. She works 30 hours a week as a post room porter at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital 
Photo by Simon Finlay

Brogan Johnston, who has Down's Syndrome, has been singled out as a role model in a report to the government intended to encourage people with disabilities into employment. She works 30 hours a week as a post room porter at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant © 2011 01603 772434

A young woman with Down's Syndrome who works in Norwich has been singled out as a role model in a report to the government intended to encourage people with disabilities into employment.

Every Sunday Brogan Johnston, 22, from Fakenham is buzzing with excitement in anticipation of starting a new working week.

She works 30 hours a week as a post room porter and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and her positive attitude led to her being invited to Whitehall, London to record a short video which is now on the website YouTube.

The 1min 58sec clip was recorded at Caxton House in June and in it Miss Johnston talks about her duties at work and how she secured it through Project Search.

Miss Johnston said: “I love my job. It is my dream job. I really like the people I work with and I enjoy being part of a team.”

Her final words on the video are: “I am keeping my job forever.”

Miss Johnston’s story appears among others in a report called the Sayce Review, carried out by Liz Sayce, the chief executive of RADAR, the UK’s largest disability organisation.

Miss Johnston attended Fakenham Junior School, Fakenham High School and Fakenham College. She then completed a two-year catering course at City College, Norwich and finished the one-year Project Search programme in August last year.

This was done through City College and carried out at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with support from Norfolk County Council, Remploy, and Serco.

Project Search works by having a college tutor and job coach running a year-long programme of work training for 12 people.

Through this Miss Johnston carried out an internship, performing three different jobs at the hospital, one per term, working in the post room, reception and ward catering before securing her paid job in the post room which she started on August 27 last year.

The project also identified her strengths and weaknesses, highlighting her polite, friendly nature, excellent reading and writing abilities and good memory and she was also given training on CV writing and interview techniques.

Miss Johnston, who lives on The Drift with her mother and father Vanessa and Paris Johnston and two sisters Amber, 20, and Saskia, 17, was asked to go to London after she was seen in a newspaper article in April.

The article reported on how City College, Norwich received an award for its work to get people with disabilities into work and Miss Johnston was highlighted in it as a success story of Project Search.

Mrs Johnston said: “When the telephone call came saying Brogan had got the job we screamed, we laughed, we cried, we hugged and we jumped around.

“Brogan loves her job, she has a great passion for it and she really is an inspiration to others with disabilities because she shows them what can be done with the right attitude and support. I am so proud of her.

“She has regular performance reviews and each one so far has said that she is doing a wonderful job.

“She has one coming up soon and she has written in her form that she wants her boss’s job in the post room.”

Stevie Read, practice development nurse an project search liaison, said: “People with disabilities make a valuable contribution to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital workforce.

“Removing some of the barriers they face when getting into employment benefits the hospital, all members of staff and patients.

“People with learning disabilities have the same aspirations to work as everyone else and as major employers we have a responsibility to help them to reach their goals.”

The Sayce Review, called Getting in, Staying in and Getting on, looked at how money is spent to help disabled people into work.

It found disabled people have the same aspirations as all people and the money the government spends should help them into mainstream jobs.

The review makes a number of recommendations which are being considered by the Department of Work and Pensions which launched a public consultation on them last month.

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