Kate Brooks

Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services

DATE PUBLISHED: 31 Oct 2017 LAST UPDATED: 19 Mar 2021


I was asked by my boss to attend an event on the afternoon of 13th October 2017. I trundled along to the event that day not really knowing what to expect and thinking mostly about the afternoon tea, which was very pleasant!

From the moment I walked into the Marsham Court Hotel, I knew this was a serious event. The hotel conference room was buzzing with around 150 attendees, some of whom I recognised as really successful and influential local business owners.

I found myself a seat with some familiar faces, and settled in to listen to the speakers who had been tasked with raising awareness, explaining how businesses can provide work experience opportunities to people with special educational needs (SEN), and advancing the sound business case for doing so. The invite to this event promised it to be interesting and entertaining – this is an understatement, each and every one of the speakers were FANTASTIC.

I can honestly say that I have never been to an event where each speaker is equally as inspirational, entertaining and thought provoking.

The impressive line up of speakers included author, Gillan Drew (Author/blogger for Aspie Daddy); Laura Hankinson (HR manager, TestLink); Ian Siddall (Piddle Brewery); Dianne Durham; Karen Taylor (Linwood School); Kathy Lette (Jules’ mum, and author of the Boy Who Fell to Earth), Jules Robertson (Holby City actor), and finally Rosie Jones (Mock the Week and Eight Out of Ten Cats comedian). If you get a chance to hear any of these speakers, I highly recommend you do!

We were given shocking statistics: of 8000 individuals in Dorset with SEN, only 500 are in meaningful employment; 16% of adults with autism are in full time employment, whereas ¾ would like to be; and 60% of kids with autism encounter serious

Local businesses, including TestLink and Piddle Brewery, persuasively described the massive benefits of taking supported internships through SWRAC and employing staff with SEN.

We were entertained by all the speakers who were able to convey their experiences in a light hearted way that only reinforced the serious message of the day – #SayYestoSEN. I for one am sold and am looking forward to working with SWRAC!

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