employedA northwest-based Foundation has entered a partnership to offer people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and autism, volunteering opportunities – enhancing their work experience and employment skills.

Widnes-based Cathie Stankevitch Foundation has partnered with Community Integrated Care (CIC)’s Vocational Support service and taken on two volunteers to help with the Foundation’s work.

The Cathie Stankevitch Foundation was founded by former rugby league player John Stankevitch in honour of his late mother. The foundation, which will soon become a registered charity, aims to make a significant social impact on the local community through delivering a host of charitable activities. It recently launched a campaign to encourage local people to donate unused and unwanted sports equipment and wear, which will be distributed to young people to help them participate in sporting activity.

CIC’s Vocational Support service is a specialist service that supports people with learning and physical disabilities, autism and mental health needs into employment. The service aims to match people who receive support with local businesses, helping to add to their workforce and give them valuable assistance with their business priorities. People who access Vocational Support are partnered with specialist support workers, who help enable them to deliver great assistance to the businesses they work with.

Super League winner Stankevitch visited the 2 volunteers who he has taken on – Louise Lamkin and Coleen Farrell – to wish them well on their first day of work. The volunteers, who were seeking work that could give them opportunities to travel and meet new people, are now responsible for visiting local businesses, pubs, restaurants and venues to invite them to display fundraising tubs for the Foundation as well as overseeing the collection of them.

Renata Davies, Vocational Support’s service manager, said: “The businesses who employ the people we support notice an increase in footfall, improved customer feedback and really value having a caring, hard-working and inclusive workforce. For the people we support, having meaningful and valued employment opportunities enables them to build their confidence, meet new people and gain new experiences.”

John Hughes, head of communications and marketing at CIC, said: “I’m thrilled that the Cathie Stankevitch Foundation have come on board with Vocational Support. To have such a high profile figure in the local community as John Stankevitch support our aims is incredible, and we hope will inspire many others to follow suit. We are seeing more Widnes businesses, including Widnes Vikings, joining Vocational Support, which helps build a stronger and more inclusive community.”

Stankevitch said: “The help that Vocational Support provides the Cathie Stankevitch Foundation is vital as it means we can start to up-scale our work. As the sole employee in the Foundation, I was having trouble managing the distribution and administration of our collection tubs. The Vocational Support workers have now taken on the majority of this work which has freed me up to focus on strategic priorities. This support has had a huge impact already and I hope the partnership with Community Integrated Care continues to grow.”