Team Domenica: Providing a sense of direction and purpose

Jo Cooke, Team Domenica
Jo Cooke, Team Domenica

Launched in the vibrant city of Brighton and Hove, Team Domenica helps young adults with learning disabilities find and retain employment, giving them a sense of direction, purpose and belonging in their local community.

Founder and trustee Rosa Monckton, whose younger daughter, Domenica, has Down’s Syndrome, set up the charity to help young adults with learning disabilities – whose greatest challenge is to find regular employment and to feel included within society. There are 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK and almost 94 per cent are unemployed.

Team Domenica candidates developing new skills in their training centre (Photograph: Sally Durrant/sallydurrant.com)

Team Domenica candidates developing new skills in their training centre (Photograph: Sally Durrant/sallydurrant.com)

Far too many are missing out on the basic right to aspire to a career, along with the wider social networks, better emotional/physical health and increased independence that come from having a job. Suffering from profound loneliness, they feel rejected and isolated from society.

At Team Domenica, we strongly believe that young adults with learning disabilities have the right to work, to lead fulfilling and purposeful lives, to have their individual gifts and talents recognised, and to feel included as valued members of society. Our mission is to remove barriers to work for people with learning disabilities.

We help young adults with a wide range of ability. Aged 19 to 25, they are referred to as our ‘candidates’ to more accurately reflect and emphasise their role as people ready for employment. We provide a range of employment programmes, structured to help prepare candidates for the workplace and develop their capacity to lead happy, fulfilled lives. Through

Team Domenica, they can discover new talents, make new friends and feel better connected to their local community. We operate through a unique three-tier set up of training centre, training café and employment agency.

At our training centre, candidates complete an employment course designed to develop employability, life skills and independence.

In our training café, open to the public, they gain practical work experience as a supported in-house work placement alongside their studies.

Through our Employment Agency we establish relationships with local companies to procure suitable and sustainable employment opportunities.

Already our paid employment rate is over 25 per cent, against a national average of 5.8 per cent for people with learning disabilities. Our candidates have grown both in ability and self-confidence, and our training café – Café Domenica on Preston Road has become a community hub. It serves the purpose of not only educating our candidates, but also of showing the abilities of our candidates to the public.

Café Domenica (5-7 Preston Road) is open Monday to Friday 8.45am to 4pm serving delicious handmade cakes, breakfast and lunches alongside coffee from Small Batch.

Team Domenica has a chance of winning £25,000 through the Aviva Community Fund scheme. This money would make an enormous difference, enabling us to fund four part-time Work Buddies to safely accompany our candidates to their work placements, providing vital one-to-one support. To show your support, register to vote at here and search for Work Buddies. Voting closes on November 21.

Jo Cook is the fundraising and marketing manager for Team Domenica.

This is the first in a series of Christmas features by Fugu PR showcasing the work of local charities.