A Crystal Palace fan with a mild learning disability is celebrating securing his dream job as a match day steward at the club’s stadium, Selhurst Park.
Graham Drew began his career with Premier League side Crystal Palace working outside the ground and was recently promoted to work inside the stadium, where he helps ensure a safe environment for visitors on match days.
Crew, 39, who lives independently in the community in his own flat in South London, receives 20 hours of support a week from Regard’s South Road supported living service in Forest Hill to help manage his finances and shopping.
Folahan Adebowale, South Road team leader, said: “We are delighted for Graham. As a Crystal Palace fan this is a dream come true. He loves being part of the action on match days and helping making sure everything runs smoothly.
“He enjoys working with the public and the chance to shine as an ambassador for the club.
“Moving out to live on your own can be a huge step and Graham is managing very well and enjoying have the freedom to organise his own affairs and live his own life.”
South Road is a male-only service for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs, autism, and complex epilepsy. It is run by Regard, the UK’s fourth largest private organisation providing supported living and residential services for people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and acquired brain injury.
The South Road staff team focus on promoting independence, supporting the people who live at the service to find employment opportunities and developing person-centred transition plans for independent living. Packages of outreach support are available for those able to move on, like Drew, which ensures continuity of support.
Toucan Employment also assisted Drew, working initially on his skills and confidence and supporting him into short work experience placements, before placing him into a cleaning role with OCS at the Kia Oval in July 2015. Toucan then supported Drew to fill in the application form for the role, and engaged with the stewarding team at Crystal Palace regarding his application so they had an understanding and appreciation of his learning disabilities. Toucan continues to offer on-going support to Drew, such as supporting him to understand contract changes and what the implications are.