We’re celebrating Learning Disability Awareness Week – and what better way than to tell you about a big success story we have had with a project in the Furness area of Cumbria kindly funded by the Sir John Fisher Foundation.
Our R2W “Work & Learn” team secured a 12 month grant to pay for a Job Coach to support local people in and around the Furness area. They managed to help transform the lives of 33 people (all of whom had barriers to getting employment).
By end of March 2020 as a direct result of this scheme, 33 Learners had been signed up to the scheme and out of these:-
8 had been signed up to the “Journey 2 Work” scheme
10 had been supported into Further “Education or Training”
15 were undertaking or had undertaken valuable “Voluntary Work/Work Experience”
9 had secured “Paid Work”
(The youngest was 16 and the oldest 55).
Grant Huck from the “Work & Learn” team spearheaded the initiative and tells us about some of what was done to help: “We worked with all Learners to provide a good quality CV and the ability to seek out and find employment. We also mentored individuals in how to prepare and succeed at Interview and how then to conduct themselves at work to develop long term job security. We have also given them new innovative ideas as to how they can put themselves ahead of their competition by offering to work for free as an Intern or through a work-based capability assessment or work trial.”
Did R2W discover anything during the project – A resounding yes: “The single most important discovery we made was a lack of provision for anyone on the Autism Spectrum and so it comes as no surprise that ASD’s are one of the most significant barriers to work we have found through the scheme.”
Further to this, it has been surprising to learn just how much “Low mood, low confidence, anxiety, stress and depression” is affecting young adults and their ability to seek employment. Serious mental health conditions are putting young individuals career ambitions outside of their reach and there are no practical mental health support channels for young adults that targets their primary needs, other than our scheme. We are being referred individuals due to the lack of support provision and that has to be the catalyst for making sure that this scheme continues to grow and flourish. As indicated, gaining Learners and securing referrals was by far the easiest part of the whole process, because the area clearly has an abundance of young adults that require support and guidance. On occasions we had to turn Learners away over the first few months, as the influx was unmanageable with only limited job coach support for 14 hours per week.”
Making connections: Through this initiative R2W have made connections with over 50 new local employers, referring agencies and further education partners over the first 10 months and these connections have all benefited in some way from this pilot scheme. These connections give us a strong platform now, from which to grow this scheme over the coming years.
“I want to get into care nursing” – The tale of RM who the project helped:
RM Joined the Furness Supported Employment Pilot Scheme in July 2019. RM was unemployed at the time and it was her dream to become a Care Nurse for the Elderly. RM had only ever undertaken voluntary roles in the past, but had recently undertaken work experience within the NHS in a care role and had a Basic Care Certificate. RM was diagnosed with a non-specific learning disability, had an EHCP throughout School/College education and RMs Primary & Secondary education was through a Special Educational Needs Institution. RM found it very difficult to put into words how she may be well suited to the job, in other words she did not know how to “Sell Herself”. This is a common problem with many Learners who have similar barriers.
What did R2W do: Initially, we prepared an up to date CV for RM and then began some Job Skills Training with her, looking at how to apply for a job, how to write a successful cover letter, how to prepare and succeed in Interview.
We provided some face to face and telephone support as RM began to apply for jobs in the area, helping with application forms and application questionnaires. Very quickly, RM developed an independent self-motivation with job applications and was soon rewarded with several Interviews.
Staying focused: We then undertook targeted Interview Preparation and Interview Technique Training, showing RM, just how important it is to prepare for an interview and take notes in with you. Sadly, although RM received very positive feedback from this first interview, RM was not successful. But rather than letting this get her down, we were there to keep RM upbeat and focused on task. Within the period of July 2019 to September 2019, RM secured and attended a further six Interviews with local Care Home Employers and finally at her 7th Interview, she was offered a role within a large National Care Home Group. RM would be taking on the role of a Lifestyle Coordinator at a newly acquired Care Home. RM would also be able to undertake further Care Certificate Training in the role and so this was seen as her goal achieved.
A job offer is just the start: However, as we know only too well from experience. For some, the job offer is only the start of the process and sometimes, the pathway to securing and staying in the role long term can also be full of challenges and this was certainly the case with RM.
“The beauty of this Scheme, is that we are there not only to help the individual secure a job, but also to help them retain it, so working alongside RM over the months following their start date in November 2019, we were able to understand some of RMs initial worries and we were also able to help identify some skills gaps and provide RM with the training she needed. We met RM for an hour every week to work through these worries and undertake the training she needed. All of this was done with the full knowledge and blessing of RMs employers. RM continues successfully in this role to this day and with regular check in’s by phone every week she is building in confidence and most importantly RM is doing the job, her dream job and career.” Peter Bradbury, Regional Manager, R2W (from the report to funders, Sir John Fisher Foundation)