When it comes to closing the disability employment gap, Sussex charity Possability People is proving that anything is possible.  I am immensely proud of our Community employment Service.  From humble beginnings in 2015 when we were successfully commissioned to deliver a Journey 2 Employment project by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) I have strived to build and develop the service I wished had been available when I needed it. 

I’ve used my own lived experience of managing a mental health condition, as well as the lived experience of our incredibly talented team of disabled staff and volunteers to create a service which delivers pre-employment support through our innovative DWP-funded Get Set programme in Hastings and across Surrey. We have recently launched At Work, a programme, supporting anybody with an MSK condition to remain in work. This is one of 19 Work & Health Unit Challenge fund projects.

Get Set Hastings (and the newly launched Get Set Surrey) is the evolution of the pathfinder-funded Journey 2 Employment, which supported each individual’s specific needs.  Commissioned locally, the projects recognise our expertise in supporting people with any long term health condition, impairment or mental health condition to take the steps they need to move towards work. 

We often work with people who have been out of work for a very long time and who face a multitude of barriers.  We take everything one step at a time, blending traditional employability support with our expertise in the field of disability.  We support people to learn new condition management techniques and coping strategies, build wellness action plans and consider whether or not they would want to talk to their employer about their health and consider potential in-work support they might need.  We work to build confidence, motivation and social inclusion.  The key to our success is the lived experience of all the staff and volunteers delivering the programme, walking the walk every single day, not just talking the talk.  This has allowed us to build trust with our beneficiaries and also their potential employers, break down myths and provide ongoing support for them too.  We understand there are a great many employers (large and small) who want to do the right thing and give disabled people a chance to get back into the workplace, but they’re not sure how to go about it.  All too often, people are so afraid of saying the wrong thing they avoid the conversation completely. Light-touch ongoing support for both employee and employer has been key to ensuring the success of ongoing employment for lots of people we’ve supported.

I, and Possability People, are really pleased that ERSA have chosen “Closing the Gaps” as the theme for Employability Day and look forward to joining in the conversations online.

Mandy Crandale is Projects & Innovation Officer at Possability People

For more information about Possability People and their Community Employment Service:

www.possabilitypeople.org.uk

[email protected]

01273 89 40 44