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. The academic year for our interns is September to July, when they will work in our purpose-built training facility, Café on The Common. The interns will learn a range of transferable skills, including food preparation, serving customers and working the till. This all takes place in the café which is housed within Chorleywood Cricket Club.

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 the building.

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

Our second cohort of ten interns, who started in September 2022, moved into the new training facility in January 2023.

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

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

  • Our shared opportunity started when we learnt that Chorleywood Cricket Club were planning a major refurbishment and extension of its existing cricket pavilion on Chorleywood Common. This 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 would lie dormant for 90% of the year.
  • We needed an accessible and attractive venue for Café on The Common, to provide a training facility for some 10-20 interns per year.
  • We also hoped that the wider community would benefit from the café that is open daily, and this has truly been the case.
  • Our customers love the café, love the concept, enjoy talking to the interns, and really value what the charity is bringing to the town.
  • To achieve this, Mission EmployAble and Chorleywood Cricket Club raised £2.2m for the new pavilion.
  • Construction of the new building began in November 2021 and was completed in October 2022. The training café opened mid-January 2023 and has been a resounding success. The cricket club's new season started April 2023, and the members are really enjoying their new facilities.

Our Team


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.

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!

Erica Bendall

Erica has worked in the hotel and travel trade for over 20 years then, over the last 15 years, as a governor of Christ Church Primary School, Chair of PA at St Clement Danes, and Child Welfare Officer at Chorleywood Common Football Club. Erica has been married for over 28 years with 2 children, loads of dogs, and is fairly active in the community.

Erica's role within Mission EmployAble has been predominantly fundraising, public relations, and enjoying regularly hosting at the café meeting old and new friends.

Head of Charity Operations

Vanessa Rousseau

Vanessa Rousseau has 20 years experience in Brand, Consumer & Trade Marketing. Worked in Senior Leadership for Global brands: Bosch, Indesit Company, Miele and Electrolux Group. Creating and driving numerous marketing and brand strategies over the years. Motivating sales and marketing teams. Leading exciting product & event launches: Miele Experience store in Cavendish Place, Taste festivals and leading a pop-up restaurant on the top of the Royal Festival Hall alongside 12 Michelin Chefs. Excellent communication and collaboration skills gained working closely with buyers, agencies, chefs, charities and retail partners.

Lives in Chorleywood with her husband and two young children. Chair of Governors for Chorleywood Primary School. Recently awarded the British Empire Medal for her exceptional work in the community.

Cafe Manager

Annie Baker

The Training Team

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.

Joanne Mason
(Assistant Training Manager)

Jo has 26 years' teaching experience working with pupils ranging from 3 to 12 years old. Her time working within a local special school ignited Jo's enthusiasm for working with individuals with special needs. During her teaching career, she was a SENDCo and Deputy Head of a local primary school, attaining the NASENCO qualification.

Jo joined Mission EmployAble in April last year as Assistant Training Manager in order to further expand and support the training programme. "I've loved joining the team here at Mission Employable - everyone is great fun and I truly believe that we are making a positive difference in the local community."

Jo's other interests include walking her dog in the local countryside, volunteering at Chesham Museum where she's involved in the Children's Education Programme and spending time with her family.

Claudine Hall
(Job Coach)

As our job coach, Claudine's role is to build good relationships with employers in order to help our interns gain work experience during their training and to find part-time paid employment once their internship finishes. A long-time Chorleywood resident, she loves camping, can't resist a fitness challenge and is often to be found bargain-hunting at car boot sales!

After graduating with a degree in Business Studies, Claudine spent five years in recruitment, followed by 10 years in the City, before bringing up her children. During this time, she worked as an Exams Officer and as assistant SendCo at a Pupil Referral Unit for young people with learning disabilities.

"This experience and now my job at Mission EmployAble is where I really came into my own," says Claudine.

"Helping change the lives of people with a learning disability is the most rewarding job in the world!"

Anna Clarke

Anna, who has more than 20 years' experience of working in education and child development, began volunteering with Mission EmployAble when our Supported Internship programme launched in 2022. Very quickly, she discovered how much she enjoys working with young adults with learning disabilities.

"I try to bring a relaxed and friendly approach to my work because that's how I encourage our young people to overcome their personal challenges and reach their goal of working independently."

"It's fun for me too; working with the Mission EmployAble interns is truly inspirational and I have never smiled so much at work!"

Anna lives in Chorleywood with her family (her three children are all at local schools) and is involved in many local organisations, including acting as assistant safeguarding officer at a community rugby club.

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 Functional Maths, Functional English, Independence and Employability classes, and specific skills for their jobs.

Register here for 2023 Supported Internship Programme

The Junction & Pop Up Café

Prior to the café opening, our interns were studying Functional English and Functional Maths at The Junction (Christ Church’s community centre). They also gained experience in the Pop Up Café run by the Interns themselves and Mission EmployAble's Training Team. The Pop Up Café has now closed as the training centre is now Café on The Common

“This was a thoroughly worthwhile initiative, bringing together all sections of the community and teaching great work skills to young people. The interns were a delightful presence in our Junction, and it was wonderful to see them increase in confidence and expertise with each passing week. We warmly supported and endorsed this important initiative and look forward to seeing the Café on The Common opening."

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

The Hertfordshire Local Offer

Mission EmployAble: Off the sofa and into paid work!
Published December 2022
Mission EmployAble: Open for Business!
Published June 2023

We are a new charity based in Hertfordshire and we offer young adults with learning disabilities a unique opportunity to gain the skills and confidence to find paid work in their communities – and to have fun and make friends of their own age while they are training.

Based in Chorleywood on the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire border (on the Metropolitan line and a bus route), we run year-long supported internships in conjunction with Bucks College Group, for adults with an EHCP aged 18 - 25, living in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex and beyond.

Beaumont House

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

Back in September 2021, ou rfirst 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 had a period of induction before deciding on their personal course modules. Their on-the-job experience took place at Chorleywood Beaumont, an elegant care home.

General Manager of Chorleywood Beaumont, Judith Boikhotso, said: “Mission EmployAble is a fantastic scheme and we were delighted to welcome our six new interns to Chorleywood Beaumont Care Community, and help them gain the skills needed to progress towards paid employment. They were a valuable addition 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 café can finally go ahead. We welcome the expansion of community cricket on the Common and the café 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.

Donate Now