We are very pleased to announce some recent staff changes at Learning Disability Wales, covering our work on policy, research, communications and innovative projects.

Cath Lewis – Senior Policy and Research Officer

At the end of March we welcomed Cath Lewis to our Policy and Communications team as Senior Policy and Research Officer. Cath started her career as a social worker before joining Children in Wales, where she worked for 17 years as a Development Officer for disabled children.

Cath brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this newly-created role, which will be focusing on the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people with a learning disability and their families in Wales.

“Part of my role will be assisting with the Welsh side of the UK Covid Study”, said Cath. “We are still looking for participants to take part in this important project – you can find information about how to join on our website. The findings will be shared widely to highlight how the lives of people with a learning disability have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. I will also work closely with the Learning Disability Consortium to ensure the Improving Lives programme remains high on the Welsh Government’s agenda.”

Cath is a talented musician who enjoys playing the piano, saxophone and clarinet in her spare time as well as listening to music. She also enjoys meeting up with friends and eating chocolate, although, she says, “not necessarily both together!”

Contact Cath Lewis: cath.lewis@ldw.org.uk.

Karen Warner – Innovations Manager

Many of you will already know our colleague Karen Warner who has worked for Learning Disability Wales for many years and has had several different roles during that time, including running our easy read and policy and communications teams, and managing several projects. On 12 April Karen moved from her role as Policy and Communications Manager to Innovations Manager, where she will be managing some of our most innovative and exciting new projects, including Gig Buddies Cymru.

“I am really excited to be taking up the role of Innovation Manager,” said Karen. “I will be working on several areas within our 21St Century People project, which is funded by Welsh Government.  I am managing the Gig Buddies Cymru project, which recently expanded into the whole of North Wales, so I’m really looking forward to meeting people around Wales who are passionate about Gig Buddies and tackling loneliness.

“Gig Buddies is about helping people with a learning disability to have a great social life, through matching them with a volunteer who has similar music tastes and other interests. People with a learning disability often experience loneliness and social isolation, particularly more during the pandemic. To help improve this we are bringing people together as part of a new network, Connections Cymru, which will be looking at ways we can work together to reduce loneliness and social isolation.

“I will also be working with our personalised technology community of practice, and developing work from our European LoveLife project, which has produced a training package around sex and relationships. Last but not least, I will be exploring opportunities for developing new projects. Please get in touch – I am looking forward to meeting and networking with people around Wales!”

Contact Karen Warner: karen.warner@ldw.org.uk.

Sam Williams – Policy and Communications Manager

Following Karen’s change of role, we are happy to announce that Sam Williams has been promoted to Policy and Communications Manager. Sam has worked for Learning Disability Wales for over a decade in various policy and communication roles, including her most recent role as Engage to Change Communications Officer.

Sam has previously worked with the Learning Disability Advisory Group (the predecessor to the Learning Disability Ministerial Advisory Group), the Working Together with Parents Network and our Easy Read Wales team.

Sam is passionate about her work and is looking forward to her new role. “I am very excited to be starting a new chapter of my career at Learning Disability Wales,” said Sam. “I feel very privileged to work with such a wonderful group of people doing a job I love. I’m really looking forward to the new challenges that this role will bring and playing my part in the delivery of our 5 year strategic plan and our current major project 21st Century People.”

Contact Sam Williams: Samantha.williams@ldw.org.uk.

Cath Karen and Sam together and smiling