Employment is a key route to greater independence for people with learning disabilities

Hayley

To mark the week, Seetec Pluss, part of the employee owned Seetec Group, is highlighting the wealth of skills and talents that people with a learning disability can bring to the workplace.   

Hayley Smith, 37, from Plymouth, said getting a job after struggling to find employment for several years, even before the first Covid-19 lockdown, has given her life a new sense of purpose. 

Hayley, who was born with fluid on the brain and has both physical and learning difficulties, had previously worked in retail and childcare, but had been struggling to secure a job. She said, “I was keen to work, but once employers knew about my disability they didn’t want to know. I was feeling quite let down.” 

Through the Work and Health Programme, funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and European Social Fund, she was referred to employment and health specialist Seetec Pluss. Seetec Pluss help thousands of people each year to build their confidence, develop new skills and find work.   

“My Work and Health programme Employment Advisor, Abbie Lewis, gave me such fantastic support. We worked on my CV together, and she sent it out to so many job vacancies. Before I knew it, I got a job cleaning at my local Jobcentre and now work there for five days a week”, Hayley explained. 

“I went back to live with my family during the COVID lockdowns, but now I’m back to living by myself. I feel fantastic to be employed again, to be honest it has saved my life, otherwise I’d have been stuck within my four walls.” 

According to support organisation Mencap, around 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability, and they are up to twice as likely to experience mental health difficulties as people without learning disabilities. ONS figures show that only around one quarter of people in the UK with a learning disability (26.5%) are in any form of employment. 

Neil Cattle, an Employment Contract Manager at Seetec Pluss, said there needs to be a greater focus on employment options for people with learning disabilities throughout their education. Providing guidance and support about future employment routes could be incorporated into an individual’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. 

Seetec Pluss believes that with the right support, there is a job out there for everyone and that no-one should be left behind as they navigate their own personal journey to find work and achieve financial independence. The organisation works with participants to support them throughout the recruitment process and offers guidance on progression once in work. Seetec Pluss works with employers to encourage them to embrace diversity and adapt their processes. 

From experience, job trials are one way, instead of recruitment interviews, to allow candidates with a learning disability to demonstrate their skills rather than describe them. This type of adjustment to the traditional recruitment process helps to breaking down barriers encountered during a typical induction process and allows the transition into work to be managed in bite-sized chunks. There are many ways employers can support people with a learning disability to succeed in the workplace, Seetec Pluss is committed to highlighting the benefits of a more diverse workforce. 

Neil explained: “It’s a huge step forward for disabled people to see other people with disabilities working in a business. Disabled-worker-friendly businesses inspire increased loyalty and morale by embracing new ways of working to get the best out of their teams.  

“Employers need to reflect the diversity of their community. Adults with learning disabilities are capable of performing complex tasks with the right adjustments in place as part of a job role that is embedded alongside a collaborative and sustainable work environment. 

“When we work with employers to enable them to adapt and develop a greater understanding of learning disability, they can recruit incredibly loyal employees, who often work hard. Many people with learning disabilities really appreciate having a job role, a source of income and the opportunity to form new social networks.” 

Charlotte, from Hampshire, started working for Seetec Pluss 17 months ago. She has dyslexia and, while she had never previously considered it to be a learning disability, it made administrative tasks extremely difficult. 

Charlotte explained: “Before I realised and understood that I had dyslexia, I thought I was unable to carry out admin tasks effectively and therefore would avoid them. Since being at Seetec I have ‘owned’ my dyslexia and that has given me the confidence to overcome challenges by using alternative learning styles.” 

Seetec has supported Charlotte to adapt tasks to suit her learning style and also provides disability awareness training to staff which includes tips to make emails and documents dyslexia-friendly.  

Charlotte has now been promoted to a Team Leader role which she believes is, in part, due to “being able to embrace the way I learn and adapt accordingly.” 

As well supporting thousands of individuals to find and progress in work, Seetec Pluss also offers training services where customers can take part in a wide range of jobs such as woodwork and art, creating a range of hand-made, bespoke products and gifts.  

The products are sold on their dedicated online Etsy store, with profits being invested back into the team to continue supporting participants. It’s a great example of celebrating how getting creative has helped people to stay connected and positive over the past year.  

Link to the Learning Disability Plymouth team’s Etsy shop:  https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/UpcycledDesignsSW 

For more information about Seetec Pluss and the services it offers, visit https://www.seetecpluss.co.uk/ or call 0800 334 5525 

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Notes to editors 

To find out more about Learning Disability week visit,https://www.mencap.org.uk/get-involved/learning-disability-week-2021

 

ONS figures on employment outcomes for disabled people in the UK are available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/articles/outcomesfordisabledpeopleintheuk/2020#employment  

 

Breaking down workplace barriers for people with learning disabilities

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Two determined and enthusiastic workers from Plymouth are proving to be great advocates for employing people with learning disabilities.

david

With only six per cent of people with a learning disability being in paid employment, this week’s Learning Disability Work Week (#LDWW) celebrates the contribution people with learning disabilities can make to the workplace. According to campaigning charity Mencap, around 60 per cent of the 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability would like to be in work.

David McCannon, 32, from Plymouth, who has a learning and physical disability, works for the charity Devon Link Up to help deliver Learning Disability Awareness Training which challenges people’s perceptions. He says: “I really like my job and I love meeting new people.

“I think my job is really important for attenders to learn more about people with learning disabilities, about their rights and skills. I’ve learnt lots about being a trainer and am much more confident.”

David and his co-worker, Jill Singh, deliver training to groups including university and medical students and staff teams working in Plymouth organisations such as Peninsula Medical School, Derriford Hospital and Plymouth Community Homes.

Jill said: “I love working with David. He is reliable, punctual and extremely courteous. He has developed a great sense of humour and now engages in banter during our break with course attendees. I have watched him grow in confidence and he is truly a joy to work with.

“When we receive feedback from attendees, comments always state the difference having David there brings to the session.”

Last year David was awarded a certificate by the Deputy Chief of Nursing at Derriford Hospital in recognition of the contribution he has made to student Health Care Assistants.

David was supported into employment by Seetec Pluss where he also delivers training and supports other learners. Neil Cattle, Employment Contract Manager at Seetec Pluss, which supports individuals to enter and progress in the world of work, praised his professionalism, reliability and boundless energy. Neil said: “David is a true inspiration and gets amazing feedback from his courses.

“With the right support to develop their skills and confidence, and the support of employers, there are so many jobs where people with learning disabilities can thrive and make a really positive contribution to the workforce.”

claire

Claire Dawe, 29, from Plymouth, is determined to not let her learning disability get in the way of working and is an advocate for others, wanting to make sure that everyone is treated in the right way.

She also found employment through Seetec Pluss and works on the Learning Disability Awareness courses. Claire said: “We go to places such as schools to talk about how people with learning disabilities have been treated over the years. I find it fascinating because I didn’t know how badly people with learning disabilities have been treated. This is why I want to educate people.

“Coming to Seetec Pluss has made me feel so much more comfortable and happy. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have come this far.”

Claire is also an Avon representative and enjoys the responsibility of collecting and checking orders and, supported by her Seetec Pluss key worker, handling money.

Claire explains: “I would recommend Seetec Pluss to anyone who has a learning disability. I can’t describe how fantastic they are. It’s so amazing to meet others who have learning disabilities and has really opened my eyes to how many others have difficulties. Now I know I’m not alone.”

 

Seetec Pluss is one of the UK’s leading providers of employability and health services, supporting thousands of people to move into employment each year by creating and sourcing jobs and opportunities and focusing on people’s strengths. For more information see www.seetecpluss.co.uk,  or contact  enquiries@seetec.co.uk, 0845 33 06573.

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Photos:

1. David McCannon receives an award at Derriford Hospital.
2. Claire Dawe.

For media information about Seetec Group, please contact Nancy Rogers, PR and Communications Manager on 07779 251 711, email: nancy.rogers@seetec.co.uk