Employer in the Spotlight: Snorkel UK

Thanks to the support of employers across the North East, The Percy Hedley Foundation has placed 73 disabled young people and adults within companies to gain valuable work experience in the last year.

In a series of features, we go behind the scenes at some of the work placements organised by Hedleys Employability to see how both employer and employee benefit from the experience.

Next up is two students who access the Adult Programme at Hedleys College and have been on work placements at Washington-based Snorkel UK, who produce a range of aerial lifts.

Last college year, Snorkel UK placed two Hedleys College students on work placements at their factory in Washington.


One of those students was Jill Morrison, who accesses the Adult Programme at Hedleys College and is now in her fourth year with us.

The Adult Programme can be full or part time and provides a wide range of activities to allow young people social, leisure and creative opportunities alongside their peers.

Following an assessment by tutors and therapy professionals, students access individual, differentiated and well-structured programmes with two days on external work experience and three days in College.

Jill’s learning outcome linked to work experience was to work at an appropriate volume and also achieve some specific learning objectives focused around communication and independence.


She spent her two days a week on placement at Snorkel, working in the organisation’s busy office. There, Jill’s duties included logging paperwork, filing on computer systems and making training booklets and induction packs.

“I needed lots of help at first, but now I feel a lot more independent,” Jill explained. “I like to be busy and it’s non-stop work here.

“I was probably quite shy at first but I now feel more comfortable communicating with everyone. It’s such a friendly place and I’ve made some friends. They’ve been really welcoming and that made things easier.”

Jane Simpson, HR Manager at Snorkel, said: “Jill’s grown in confidence so much and she doesn’t hesitate to come and ask if she’s unsure.

“She’s been very sociable with the rest of the team and gets involved in conversations. Her stamina has really improved too. At first, I think she found the days quite tiring, but towards the end it became easier for her.”

Snorkel also provided the opportunity for another student, Danny Middlemass, to gain work experience in the warehouse one day a week.


Danny’s outcomes were to communicate effectively with unfamiliar people to carry out tasks with minimum prompting.

“Danny has been a great addition to the warehouse team and has really come on a lot in his time with us.

“We would like to continue to have people from Percy Hedley in the future. It’s a great way to raise awareness for staff and clients and provide opportunities for meaningful work experience.”

To learn more about Hedleys Employability click here.