Developing life and work skills

We know that disabled people have a huge amount to offer employers. However, they don’t always have the access or the opportunities to get into work. Letting talent go to waste is damaging for disabled people’s confidence — and it’s a missed opportunity for the economy.

That’s why we offer training to enable disabled people to develop new skills, and employment programmes to help them find jobs. For instance, our Discover IT service helps disabled people to use computers and adapted IT equipment within their homes and communities. We support businesses too; our one-day disability equality training workshops give businesses all the tools they need to support disabled staff.

What we achieved last year

Diversify our employment services for young people by expanding our Change100 programme

We worked hard on Change100, a programme that connects talented disabled graduates with some of the biggest employers in the UK. The pilot in 2014 was a huge success — every participant looking for work after their work placement found a job and every employer was satisfied with the results. So our focus last year was on making Change100 even better.

Change100 students from 2014

We started by making it easier for students to apply. For instance, we stopped including psychometric testing in the application process, since this kind of testing often doesn’t do justice to people with particular learning disabilities. Following this, the number of students applying increased by 300%.

We also managed to recruit more companies across the private and public sectors agreed to take part. Now, students will be able to work with leading brands including Barclays, Standard Life and Experian.

In March 2015, we held a breakfast roundtable with the then Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP. At the event, we launched a new student employment guide called ‘This Is Your Future’ – this was created for disabled students by those who took part in Change100.

‘Leonard Cheshire’s Change100 programme is a fantastic example of the difference that targeted support can make in helping disabled people to find work. The information provided in this guide will be invaluable to young disabled people starting out in their careers.’ — Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper MP

‘The professionalism and networking skills that I have learnt from working at SABMiller will definitely set me apart from other graduates. My CV has improved dramatically and I would urge other students to apply for this fantastic opportunity.’ — Tom Ward, Change100 graduate

Continuing to improve outcomes for disabled people through our existing employment services

Two Change100 graduates chattingOur Work Choice and Worksmart programmes continued to support disabled people into work. Last year more than 320 people took part — they each received bespoke support to help them to look for jobs, prepare for interviews, learn new skills, and increase their motivation and confidence.

Helping employers to understand more about disability

We recognised that many employers don’t understand some of the basics about disabilities — from the legislation they should follow, to the language they should use. Employers recognised it too.

So we delivered nine disability equality training workshops to 83 delegates, including representatives from the Welsh Assembly Government and Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. And since it’s important for us to practise what we preach, we’re developing our existing disability equality training as part of a new online induction for all staff at Leonard Cheshire Disability.

What we will do in the next year

  • Make sure the Change100 scheme reaches at least 50 students and 25 major international companies.
  • Develop inclusive social care apprenticeships within Leonard Cheshire, and work with businesses to test a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) apprenticeship scheme.
  • Pilot new high street retail operations, with opportunities for disabled people.

Spotlight on volunteering

Can Do volunteerAnother of our objectives was to develop our Can Do programme — this allows disabled people aged between 16 and 35 to volunteer in their communities.

People tell us the kinds of opportunities they’re interested in — they might want some work experience in a business, or to help out at an animal shelter. We then make it happen, so people can learn new skills, build their confidence and participate fully in their communities.

We took Can Do to 12 towns and cities in the UK. We ran launch events in Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Southend-on-Sea. We also created new Can Do materials to help us to target a younger audience. We’re now supporting twice as many disabled people as last year.

‘Can Do has given me belief in myself. It’s made me meet people I would never have met and increased my confidence at work.’ — Oliver, Can Do volunteer