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Aldingbourne WorkAid and Impact Workability have joined together in partnership to provide an exciting re-vamped supported employment service. Fulfilling the latest Supported Employment contract from West Sussex County Council, WorkAid will continue supporting individuals with confirmed Learning Disability or Autism Spectrum Conditions, and Workability will continue to support individuals with Acquired Brain Injuries, Physical and Sensory Impairments and those who are carers.
One of the people Aldingbourne WorkAid supports, Brad, has been working as a cleaner in a supermarket in Chichester since February 2020. He has to get up at 4.30 in the morning in order to start his job at 5.30. He cleans the toilets, mops the floor and hoovers the offices upstairs. Brad loves his job . He says ‘it has helped me in different ways, I’ve learned new skills. I have to be flexible because my duties can change suddenly and I can be asked to do something different. I’ve also got used to getting up early but have to be really quiet so as not to wake my housemates”.
Susanna, one of our Employment Consultants, asked Brad to explain how the Corona virus is affecting his work. He says he has continued to work and says the safety of himself and others is the number one priority. “We keep 2 metres apart but this is quite challenging especially now that more people are returning to work”
When Brad returns from work to his house which he shares with 3 others he has his temperature taken. This is to make sure he does not have a high temperature which is one of the indications of Corona virus.
For more information on our eligibility criteria and how to access our supported employment, please contact email@example.com (01243 546035) or firstname.lastname@example.org (01903 730044)
With the uncertainty of the world we are currently living in, it’s hard to imagine what life might look like after Covid-19 has relented. We’re quick to jump to saying “when this is all over” and “when we’re back to normal” but in reality, what is the reality we want to be in when we reach it?
Whether we want it to or not, life won’t be resembling anything like what we experienced before the lockdown. Not just in the big picture of human interaction and economic movement, but in the day to day; will our hearts have been changed because of the inevitable impact on our personal lives?
For some of us, work has been halted, for some of us it means we are working harder than ever before, and there will be many of us in the ‘in between’. The changes to our working lives have impacted every employee and jobseeker in our country; regardless of what letters may be after your name or what industry you are in. It’s also affected us all regardless of our neurodiversity and skill level. Since the pandemic hit the UK, Supported Employment West Sussex (comprising of WorkAid at the Aldingbourne Trust and Workability from Impact Initiatives) have been supporting people with lifelong disabilities and those who are carers to understand and process how the changes have affected them.
WorkAid have supported 185 people with a learning disability and/or autism into paid employment over the past three years (and hundreds more in the past 20 years of the project’s life so far), and respectively have given support and advice to numerous employers to enable them to feel confident about employing talented people who happen to have a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.
Out of the many lessons we have learnt from Covid-19, one of the most striking has been the ability of businesses to adapt to working virtually; using online platforms to hold team meetings from the kitchen table and thinking practically about how we encourage collaboration at work. It’s a bit of a misconception that all people who have an autism spectrum condition hate working in offices; it’s all down to how the individual experiences how their brain works. Some people with autism thrive in offices because they genuinely enjoy working with others and being in busy, noisy environments. However someone else may prefer to work alone because the pressure of unpredictable social interaction is too great; but would really enjoy having scheduled team meetings on a video platform so they still get an element of interaction with their colleagues, but can manage the impact this has on them.
This is just one example of how we could think differently about the expectations of workplaces in the post Covid-19 era. Could we be more flexible in our approach to working from home as a reasonable adjustment; in return you would still get or even retain the talented, committed employee you are searching for, but also they get to overcome a hurdle and gain or keep the job they have been working so hard to achieve?
Of course that example doesn’t fit for all industries and it would be small minded to think that there wouldn’t be challenges, but what if that was the beginning of something beautiful in recruitment?
We have also found that throughout this pandemic, many of our clients who are not shielding are incredibly keen to support their communities and step into front line roles in supermarkets, delivery driving and essential services. Their resilience, determination and enthusiasm has taken us by surprise in some ways, and has reminded us the true value of work isn’t money; its being part of something bigger. A team, a response, a community of people working together.
That sounds a little familiar; what is most likely written on your own job description, or have you typed the same sentence in your own recruitment adverts? “Willing to work as part of a team” “Must be a keen team-player” “You’ll be part of a vibrant and busy team” to name but a few common lines in job adverts. We often find that where people haven’t been given the opportunity to experience team-working, they struggle to ‘stand out’ to recruitment panels; could our recruitment practices actually be limiting team working potential? Having workplace trials and working job interviews can tell you so much more than just what an application form or an interview can tell you on their own. How often has the best person in an interview turned out to not quite hit the mark you were looking for? Working job interviews could give us so much insight into how a person might settle into a role; do they visibly pick up the online systems you’re using, or do they get stuck in to getting to know their potential colleagues and show interest in how the role they are interviewing for fits into the business as a whole.
For someone with a learning disability; having the opportunity to physically try the job role can be a really helpful insight into what the expectations of them are going to be. It can also be a chance to really demonstrate the things they are great at; they might be a skilled food preparer or be checkout operative who oozes natural charm and customer service but you might not get to see that if you just go by a traditional CV. We’re experimenting with video CVs at the moment; so that recruiters can visibly see somebody at work and demonstrating their ability; allowing the person to show their personality so much more vividly than two sides of A4 ever can. As a recruiter, would that style and approach to a CV be of interest?
The effect that Covid-19 is having on businesses throughout the UK is nothing short of devastating; it’s no secret that we are facing tough times ahead and many people are facing the prospect of losing their jobs, which will include those with lifelong disabilities. With low rates of employment in this area of the population, this is set to be another hurdle for people with disabilities to overcome but they aren’t alone. Thousands of people will be competing for jobs; isn’t it only fair that we make our recruitment practices accessible to even out the competition field? One thing is for sure, with the right support any employer can take on any employee who has a lifelong disability, which is where Supported Employment West Sussex can step in. We offer free advice and support to enable businesses take on an employee with a lifelong disability so that everyone involved feels positive, empowered and supported.
So my parting question is this; will you revert back to the ‘norm’ when recruiting post Covid-19, or would you like to be part of a historic moment where the workplace really does champion diversity in our communities?
For more information about how you can support existing staff with lifelong disabilities, or are in a position to welcome new staff into your business and would like to learn more about us, please contact email@example.com (learning disability and autism) or firstname.lastname@example.org (physical disability, sensory impairment and/or acquired brain injury, and those who are carers).
“Having worked almost 18 years with ILG, this is one of the things that I am most proud to be part of.” said Jane Middlemiss, Director of Organisational Development at ILG.
Finding a job can be difficult when you have a learning disability and/or autism, having someone to help you along the journey can build the support you need to achieve employment.
WorkAid at Aldingbourne Trust run a service to match adults with learning disabilities and/or autism with suitable work placements. By getting to know their clients, they find out what they are passionate about and focus on the abilities of the individual, looking for suitable employment opportunities within the local community.
Liz Miles, Employment Consultant at WorkAid, has been working with ILG since 2015. “I approached them with one of my clients, with a speculative letter, asking if they had any vacancies at their warehouse in Burgess Hill. I was very fortunate to meet with Jane Middlemiss, who met with my client and gave him the opportunity of a work trial. From there Work Aid an ILG have been working together and they made us their charity of the year for 2016, helping raise funds for Work Aid.”
ILG now have 16 employed staff who have come through the programme, which is approximately 5% of ILG’s workforce.
“For me, working with Aldingbourne Trust to recruit staff through the WorkAid programme just makes sound business sense. It enables us to source reliable employees, it increases productivity and it improves the engagement of the whole workforce, who are proud to work for an organisation that supports the employment of adults with a disability.” Said Jane.
Liz supports ILG during the whole recruitment process, starting with job coaching, with regular reviews to make sure that everything is working well for all concerned and any extra support is always available from Liz and the WorkAid team.
Jane has been fortunate to work with Liz Miles for a number of years now, placing clients in roles in ILG, and after almost 18 years of working with ILG, this is one of the things she is most proud to be part of. Jane is currently responsible for four cleaners at the main office in East Grinstead who joined ILG through the WorkAid programme. They have proven to be hard working, always arriving on time and very polite and eager to learn. It has been very rewarding for Jane and her colleagues to see what a difference having a job means to them, and they have watched their confidence grow.
When they first started, one of the cleaners would just come in, say hello, not make eye contact and get on with his job. Fast forward 18 months and he now chats to all the team, which has shown what an amazing sense of humour this young man has. “This means a great deal to me as an individual, to think that just 6 hours a week, cleaning the work tops and tables in the canteen, loading and unloading the dishwasher and filling up the tea and coffee pots, could make such a positive change to an individual.” Said Jane.
“I would have no hesitation in recommending anyone to get involved with such a worthwhile and life change scheme, not only does it changes these young peoples’ lives for the better , it is a fantastic feeling going home from work knowing that you have been part of such a wonderful and positive thing.”
“Ryan joined ILG through the WorkAid Programme just over two years ago as a caretaker in the warehouse. He is an absolute pleasure to work with, no matter what task you give to Ryan he does it, no fuss and no moaning, with a very can do attitude. He never leaves a task half done, always following thorough right to the end. He often comes to see me to ask how I am and always seem to be interested in others. Very proactive at seeing what tasks need to be done and needs very little guidance, but if he has questions, he will ask. A real asset to my warehouse.” Steve Ettridge, Warehouse Manager.
Liz has seen dramatic changes in her clients, they have grown in confidence, made friends and some have completed warehousing apprenticeships. ILG have truly turned these individuals lives around, given them self-worth and most importantly a safe/supportive environment to work in.
“ILG are, in my opinion, by far the most understanding, supportive and forward thinking company. I am truly grateful to work with them. Words cannot ever express my gratitude to the whole staff team at ILG, for embracing Work Aid clients, making them part of an ever expanding company, and valuing them. I can only hope that sometime in the near future, we can find another company, with the same values and commitment to adults with learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorder.” Liz Miles, WorkAid.
If you have employment opportunities at your business for people with learning disabilities and/or autism like Ryan, please contact our WorkAid team on 01243 546035 or email@example.com.
Or please visit our website www.aldingbournetrust.org/supported-employment, and to find our more about our award winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives.
It's fair to say that John Buck is an enthusiastic and industrious worker. Indeed, so eager is the 51-year-old toiler that if asked to dig a hole he might well endeavour to reach Australia!
That's the view of Anthony Hughes, who is John’s employment consultant at WorkAid, an award-winning scheme which aims to match adults with learning disabilities or autism with suitable work placements.
WorkAid is an arm of The Aldingbourne Trust, Chichester, near Fontwell, and the organisation has had reason to celebrate this week thanks to the progress that John -- who is just one of the people they support -- has made.
John works as a trolley attendant at Tesco but has worked in a number of different areas in the past. And describing John’s work ethic, Anthony said: “John is a great character. He is a very enthusiastic worker and would attempt to dig to Australia if you asked!”
John gained full-time employment at a local garden nursery after gaining experience at the Acorn horticultural unit. When the garden centre closed down, he looked for more employment and gained further experience through a range of other jobs.
John worked as a warehouse and office cleaner and as a grape picker at a local vineyard. John has now been happily working at his local Tesco Extra at Broadbridge Heath for three months and is considered a valuable member of the team.
He has at times been offered overtime and has now been offered a permanent contract.
If you have employment opportunities at your business for people with learning disabilities and/or autism like John, please contact our WorkAid team on 01243 546035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or please visit www.aldingbournetrust.org/supported-employment, and to find out more about our award-winning charity that supports adults with learning disabilities and/or autism to live independent lives.
At the Aldingbourne Trust, we run our free award winning Work Aid service funded by West Sussex County Council. Work Aid aims to match adults with learning disabilities and / or autism with suitable work placements, to support employment opportunities, challenge long-standing stereotypes about disability, and refocus attention on the abilities of the individual.
The people we support work through a tailored programme to prepare them for the world of work including skills training, assistance with job applications and supported inductions with employers.
The Work Aid programme empowers individuals by raising their self-confidence, independence and self-esteem while challenging perceptions of disability in the workplace.
Learning Disability Week takes place in May each year. As part of this awareness week, we would like to tell you about Luke, who is one of the Trust’s Work Aid clients.
Luke was referred to the Work Aid for support, as he has autism and has also suffered from anxiety and depression. He was living alone, unemployed, and had little contact with his family.
We provided an employment consultant to support Luke, to get to know him and build his trust, to enable us to understand his needs and what would make him happy. As a result we found out about his great love of aircraft.
The Work Aid team successfully made contact with a company based at Gatwick Airport who are responsible for aircraft cleaning. By helping Luke throughout the application process, and supporting him during his interview, Luke was offered a job and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Luke now describes his autism as his ‘Super power’, as he was able to achieve his lifetime ambition when the ground crew servicing a Boeing 777 jet offered him the chance to get a close up view of the engine.
As a result of his employment, Luke has increased his social circle through becoming a well respected member of staff at work. He has also grown in confidence and now has more contact with his family.