About Us

Our Story

The Vision of Mission EmployAble

At Mission EmployAble, we train young adults with learning disabilities to make the most of their individual talents and help them find a paid job after their training that will allow them to lead purposeful lives and be valued as active members of their communities.

We offer training via year long Supported Internships, in partnership with the Buckinghamshire College Group. We hope to welcome our new interns for the next academic year to our purpose-built café, where they will learn a range of transferable skills, including food preparation, serving customers and working the till.

Our interns will receive their training in our 30-cover café, which will be housed within Chorleywood Cricket Club’s new pavilion on the edge of Chorleywood’s magnificent Common.

We are delighted that work on the new building started in November 2021. In keeping with our commitment to our communities on both sides of the county border, we commissioned St Albans based construction firm Boom for the building and Jane Duncan Architects from Little Chalfont for the design and expect the building to take 41 weeks.

In the meantime, our first six interns, who started in September 2021, are receiving their training in Beaumont House care home in Chorleywood, with Maths and English classes in the nearby Junction community centre at Christ Church.

Mission EmployAble is unique in offering Maths, English and job experience in one place, with all interns together and with a dedicated trainer.

Our vision matters because there are currently 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK, almost 94% of whom are unemployed or doing voluntary work. Consequently, far too many of them are denied the independence, personal satisfaction and social connections that a job brings and sadly, many find their emotional and physical health suffer as a result.There are only 1600 supported internships in the entire country and approximately 1000 people within a 10km radius of Chorleywood who would benefit from such training. When it comes to aspiration and ambition, young adults with a learning disability are no different from anyone else! In fact, we find they make excellent employees, because they are conscientious, punctual and eager to please. All they need to reach their potential is the right training and support.

Our Shared Opportunity

  • We learned that Chorleywood Cricket Club was already planning a major refurbishment and extension of its existing cricket pavilion on Chorleywood Common, that would allow it to extend its training to girls, women and to people with physical disabilities
  • It seemed a shame that a building in such a beautiful setting should lie dormant for 90% of the year
  • Mission EmployAble needed an accessible and attractive venue for our 30-cover café with a gift shop to provide training opportunities for some 20 interns per year.
  • We also believed that the wider community would benefit from a café that is open every day, to all comers
  • A plan was hatched between the two organisations! Together, Mission EmployAble and Chorleywood Cricket Club have raised £1.9m of our target of £2.15m for the new building
  • Construction of the new building began in November 2021, with completion scheduled for September 2022
  • Our first six interns began their training with us in September 2021, based at the Beaumont care home in Chorleywood and at the Junction community building within Christ Church, Chorleywood

Our Team

Trustees

Katharine Weston (Chair)

Katharine is a doctor by training and spent over 20 years in the NHS. She was a consultant dermatologist with a special interest in melanoma and dermatological surgery. She helped set up and was clinical lead for the melanoma service at GSTT and has published over 50 papers in peer reviewed journals. She no longer practices clinical medicine but is a Trustee of Melanoma Focus and leads the National Melanoma Database project which she set up. She has 4 children, one of whom has learning difficulties especially in speech, language and communication. Other interests include flying, gardening and life drawing.

Mark Peter Douglas

Having gained a first degree in law and a post graduate Diploma in Management Studies, Mark worked in retail and operations management within the hospitality and entertainment sectors for a number of years before being appointed as Director of Visitor Experience at Warner Bros Studio Tour. Based in Hertfordshire, he brings experience of both the private and charity sectors, team development and more importantly the desire to exceed customer expectations. With a passion for football, he has coached a youth football team for the past seven years.

Philip Garner

Philip taught in mainstream and specialist schools for nearly 20 years. He has subsequently worked as a Lecturer and Professor of Special and Inclusive Education at the universities of Brunel, Nottingham Trent and Northampton. Philip has engaged in school-focussed research projects both in the UK and internationally and has directed funded research for governments in diverse nations including China, Australia, Malaysia, Bhutan, Sierra Leone and Oman. He has published widely in the field of Special Education and Disability and frequently presents keynote lectures at major international conferences. Philip is currently the Editor of Support for Learning, a professional journal with a special educational needs focus as well as Series Editor for the Routledge book series concerning specialist educational provision for children and young people. Philip is a keen rock climber and lives in Loudwater, near Chorleywood.

Donald James Reid

Donald has worked and volunteered in the charity sector for the past 9 years, including 7 years as a project manager for The Cranfield Trust where he worked with over 150 different charities, helping deliver strategic, organisational and operational advice. He previously worked for 34 years for the Royal Dutch Shell group in a number of strategic, sales and marketing roles. Donald is a founding trustee of Mission EmployAble and has a particular interest in ensuring that the charity meets all regulatory and legal requirements.

Richard Walton

Richard is a former senior police leader who now works in the private and charity sectors. He is a founding trustee and Chair of The Educational Frontier Trust (TEFT), a UK registered charity that provides funding for the educational needs of marginalised and vulnerable children in Kenya. He has lived with his family in Chorleywood for 25 years.

Neil Twogood

Neil is a qualified chartered accountant. He worked in finance and line management roles for a global manufacturing company before co-founding a telecommunications company that was subsequently sold to a large US Telco. He then invested in, and joined as COO/CFO, a psychometric services company which, after 6 years, was sold to a leading US training company. After completing his MSc (dip.) in Executive Coaching and Organisational Design he works as an executive coach and as an associate Programme Director at Ashridge Hult Business School. Neil is a Governor at Berkhamsted School. He has been married for over 30 years, has three children and for hobbies does something active and outdoors whenever he can.

Richard Bloomfield

With a degree in Psychology, Richard worked as a management consultant and as a senior manager in a range of Communication, Change and Employee Engagement roles in the healthcare, transportation and manufacturing sectors, including at Heathrow Airport during the construction and opening of Terminal 5, the largest construction project in Europe.
Richard will be working alongside the other trustees to help ensure that the three interconnected projects (pavilion construction, cafe & training programme) are effectively coordinated.
He has lived with his family in Chorleywood for 22 years and is an active member of Chorleywood Cricket Club.

Trevor Hails

Trevor trained as a teacher in Exeter and taught in special schools for 35 years. He was Deputy Head of St Nicholas, a residential school for pupils with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties in Merstham Surrey, during which time he was also a county trainer, advising staff on de-escalation and physical intervention. Before he retired, he spent 16 years as Assistant Head then Deputy Head of Alfriston School, a part- residential school for girls with learning, speech, and language difficulties near Beaconsfield, where he was also the school’s exams officer and the member of staff responsible for quality assurance of the school’s BTEC qualifications.
Trevor lives in Amersham with his wife and is a keen golfer. He is currently captain of Hazlemere golf club, which has nominated Mission EmployAble as its charity of the year for 2022.
Trevor and his wife walked Hadrian’s Wall last year which was very special as it finished in his native city of Newcastle upon Tyne, and he is predictably a Newcastle United supporter!

Trainers

Cassandra Langham (Training Manager)

Cass, a special needs teacher from Australia who settled locally in 2020 is the training manager for Mission EmployAble’s first Supported Internship programme, which began on September 6. Cass, is a highly experienced teacher of children and teenagers with a wide range of learning disabilities. She gained a Bachelor of Learning Management degree from Central Queensland University in 2005 and since then has taught in primary and secondary schools in Melbourne, Australia and also in Yorkshire, where one of her favourite memories was taking pupils with special educational needs to camp in the seaside town of Whitby. In Australia, Cass spent a year teaching a group of mainly indigenous students with complex learning needs.

Jackie Quirk

Jackie started as a trainer with our first interns in September 2021. A long time resident of Chorleywood and the mother of 2 adult children, Jackie studied art originally before working as a Nursery Nurse in primary schools and as a Learning Support Assistant for several years, helping primary and secondary school pupils with special educational needs. Most recently, she has led history workshops at the Chiltern Open Air Museum in Chalfont St Giles and creative workshops to children with learning disabilities in foster families.

Our Partnerships

We are fortunate in having excellent relationships with our local community, colleges, employers and charities. By working with these partners, we provide education, training and support service for people with learning disabilities in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and beyond. Once our interns finish their training with us, we will use our links to help them find paid work in their own communities. Because we want the work placements to succeed, we will continue to support our interns and their employers afterwards.

Buckinghamshire College Group

Click here to view the flyer.

Our Supported Internship programme has been specially devised in conjunction with Buckinghamshire College Group and will lead to industry-recognised qualifications.Throughout their work experience, our interns will receive personalised support from our Training Manager, Cass Langham, who will help them with on-the-job training, along with Maths, English, Independence and Employability classes and specific skills for their jobs.

Register here for 2022 Supported Internship Programme

The Junction & Pop Up Café


Just across the road from Beaumont House, our interns are studying English and Maths at The Junction (Christ Church’s community centre). They are also gaining experience in hospitality in the Junction café with the new Pop Up Cafe run by the Interns themselves and Mission EmployAble Training Team. It is open Tuesday & Wednesday 8.30am - 10.30am and 2.30pm - 4.30pm, we would love to see you.

“This is a thoroughly worthwhile initiative, bringing together all sections of the community and teaching great work skills to young people. The interns are a delightful presence in our Junction, and it is wonderful to see them increase in confidence and expertise with each passing week. We warmly support and endorse this important initiative."

Rev’d Canon David Hall, Vicar of Christ Church, Chorleywood

Beaumont House

Cass Langham, Judith Boikhtso, Sharon Rochas. Photo courtesy Simon Varnals.

Six deserving interns were successful in securing a place in September 2021 on our first sought-after Supported Internship. Led by Mission EmployAble’s Training Manager Cassandra Langham, interns have a period of induction before deciding on their personal course modules.Their on-the-job experience takes place at Chorleywood Beaumont, an elegant care home.

General Manager of Chorleywood Beaumont, Judith Boikhotso, said: “Mission EmployAble is a fantastic scheme and we are delighted to welcome our six new interns to Chorleywood Beaumont Care Community and help them gain the skills needed to progress towards paid employment. We are certain they will all be valuable additions to the team.”

Chorleywood Parish Council


The new Cricket Pavilion, which will house our training café, is on Common land which is owned and managed by Chorleywood Parish Council on behalf of the community. The council has supported the project from its inception and assisted with planning permission, DEFRA approval, ecological and Common Law advice, in addition to the authoring and finalisation of the leases and development agreement. Debbie Rosario, Chair of the Parish Council, said “After several years of discussion, we are excited that the rebuilding of the Cricket Pavilion and subsequent provision of the charity's cafe can finally go ahead. We welcome the expansion of community cricket on the Common and the cafe as an opportunity to provide training for young adults with learning disabilities. We look forward to a long and happy partnership with Chorleywood Cricket Club and Mission EmployAble”

Our Donors

We would like to thank all our donors, charitable trusts and foundations, who share our vision and who help in various ways.

Without your support the essential work that we do would simply not be possible.

We also thank all those who contribute through our 'Virgin Money Giving' platform. From £3 donations to £5,000, every single pound helps us in our aim to get young adults with learning disabilities into paid employment.

As VMG have now stopped their donation platform as of the 30th November 2021, we are delighted to say that we have chosen People’s Fundraising as our new partner.

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