For younger disabled people the pinnacle of our ambition is to ensure people with disabilities can enjoy paid employment or run their own business.
Irrespective of the end destination we will encourage individual journeys towards independence through a range of services which offer volunteering and skills development suitable for all.
Scottish entrepreneur Alex has athetoid cerebral palsy and has used powerchairs since he was at school. He has developed an independent work and social life and has visited over 40 countries and 180 cities independently with his chair and often had problems with it breaking down. He founded Freedom One Life with a vision to be the market leader in products and services that radically redefine and shift what mobility means for disabled people.
One of his Freedom One products is a more reliable powerchair which has been recognised by our partnership award, the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs. This award has been jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and Leonard Cheshire Disability for the past decade to recognise the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.
Applications come from diverse business areas, including documentary-makers, night photographers, vintage ice-cream makers and accessible playground designers. In 2016, EasyJet founder Sir Stelios HajiIoannou, picked five finalists who each won £10,000. Alex was the overall winner and won £30,000.
His inspirational business, Freedom One Life has developed a next generation power wheelchair, designed to offer a step change in reliability, performance and support in the power wheelchair market.
‘I started this business three years ago with the vision of a better product and service to give people independence and add freedom to their lives.
‘Winning this award is huge recognition that, what started as an idea, is going to become a reality for thousands of people around the world. I am very grateful to Stelios and Leonard Cheshire for this award.’
To provide disabled people with specialised support to find employment or keep a job once they have started work, we work in close partnership with Work Choice, a government supported programme, delivering in the highlands and islands of Scotland, and across London.
The people we support have access to employment advisors, who offer one-to-one training support with everything from identifying the right job, to interviewing and coaching, through to helping people move from benefits into work.
As a young deaf man aged 27, based in west London, Dominic had applied for IT jobs but had had no luck in the highly competitive IT job market.
A Leonard Cheshire advisor supported Dominic to search for jobs and make phone calls. Following a recruitment workshop, Dominic so impressed a director from Lloyds Banking Group, that he won a guaranteed IT apprentice place.
‘I would like to say thanks for all your support and encouragement. I am so happy and contented in my work and so thankful to you for the help you have given me to get here.
‘I’m so pleased to have been given this opportunity, and I am determined to work hard at securing a long-term career with Lloyds Banking Group.’