Cameron Smith is currently 27 years old and owns a 3-bedroom house in East Kilbride, Scotland. He has a rewarding job at the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD). As a Development Worker, he engages with people with lived experience and their families, partner organisations across the world and policymakers in Scottish government.
Cameron believes his rewarding career at SCLD would not have been possible if he hadn’t taken part in DFN Project SEARCH when he left school in 2013.
Cameron attended a mainstream school where he was a vocal participant in the classroom but struggled when it came to socialising outside of lessons. He remembers “hiding away at lunch” with his close friends, partly because he was shy and “didn’t really know what to say to folks” and partly because he often found himself the target of bullying. Like many young people, Cameron thought college was his only option when he left school and worried he would find himself unemployed when he completed his studies. When a application form found its way onto the desk of his career advisor, Cameron was excited to find a programme where he could learn real life skills and most importantly, find employment.
Cameron’s DFN Project SEARCH journey began at University Hospital Hairmyres. As part of the programme, Cameron undertook a variety of rotations including patient-facing roles in the Audiology Department, desk-based roles in the Orthopaedic Department and spending time as a hospital porter. Commenting on the depth of experience, Cameron said “I was coming home buzzing every day.” During his second rotation at DFN Project SEARCH, Cameron found he had been successful in his application to a part-time (16 hours per week) receptionist job at SCLD.
However, his journey did not stop there. After 2 ½ years, he progressed into a new role as an Events and Information Assistant. This time, he would be working 5 days a week in his first fulltime job ever. This promotion enabled Cameron to play an even more active role in the planning of events, not just attending meetings, but helping to coordinate them. He learned to write agendas and take minutes with clear action points, which was challenging at first due to his dyspraxia and dyslexia, but SCLD gave him all the time and tools he needed. In 2021, Cameron was promoted again to the role of Development Worker. In this role, he facilitates National Networks and represents his organisation at cross-party parliamentary committees, delivering presentations and learning disability awareness training at international events.
Cameron is grateful to DFN Project SEARCH for helping him to get his first job which led to his current job. He says, “Without my job, I wouldn’t be able to have my house, go on my first holiday.” He is a passionate advocate for DFN Project SEARCH, speaking about the programme and the impact it had on his life, whenever he gets the chance, including at the World Down’s Syndrome Congress in Glasgow, 2018.