At Walsingham Support we get to know each person really well, designing practical innovations that enable personal choices, improve life skills and strengthen links with family and the wider community. That is why when an opportunity arises for a person we support to work collectively with our staff, we grab it with both hands.

This summer has been particularly busy at Walsingham Support’s head office in London and recruitment has played a large part in this. It will come as no surprise then, that we welcome assistance from the people we support. Clare, a person we support in Teddington, London, is one such person. With her help, we have been getting the hiring process underway.

Clare, who is 73 years old and has a learning disability, has recently made several visits to our head office in North London Business Park with her key worker, Mawa. Together they take the train and the tube from Teddington with a commute of around 2 hours one-way; a long old journey, then! Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to trouble Clare: “I don’t mind the trek.” Despite the travel, Clare and Mawa aren’t tired from the visits. On the contrary, Clare takes the opportunity to say hello to everybody in the office. “She is so pleased to do that,” says Mawa.

It’s not all about friendly chats and seeing familiar faces, however. Important work must be done! Clare has been involved in our job interviewing process; preparing questions and attending interviews. She has been brilliant and has welcomed the challenge: “I liked everything, and I liked talking to people as I used to do interviews in college” says Clare.

Lea, a person we support at 1 of our services in Luton, has also visited our office to partake in interviews. He says: “I like meeting people…It was a big step for me to be invited to interview.”

For us, having people we support involved in the recruitment process is important. We believe this type of interaction creates engagement between the people we support and our staff. It also enables applicants to get a feel of what we are all about and what we do, as well as strengthens relationships with our current Walsingham Support workforce. Finally, and most importantly, it gives the people we support an opportunity to have their say and to voice their concerns. A question that particularly resonates which was asked by Clare when interviewing a candidate for the HR team:

“How will you make sure you get good staff for me?”

The benefits of people we support partaking in these interviews are unequivocal. Not only does it bring happiness to people like Clare who enjoy participating, but it also brings a fresh and innovative feel within the office. Clare loves to paint and draw and see friends at her weekly Zumba classes. Also top of her list is shopping, and finding clothes that match is a favourite pastime of hers: “She’s already chosen her outfit for tomorrow,” says Mawa! Her vibrancy and creative flair are reflected not only in the job interviews but also within the general spirit of the office.

"We loved having Clare as part of the recruitment process - she judged the candidates well and helped our decision-making process. The candidates all fed back that they enjoyed having the opportunity to meet some of the people we support too," says Pip, Head of HR.

So far Clare has visited a total of 4 times, 3 have been with Mawa. Mawa says after their first visit together: “Clare was so pleased. She loves to go out and she loves to meet people and to ask questions.” So delighted in fact, “she keeps asking when her next appointment is and is looking to get another date in the diary soon!”