People with learning disabilities or autism deserve the same opportunities in life as everyone else – and that includes paid employment.
However, for those who can and want to work, finding a suitable job can sometimes be a challenge.
The Supported Employment Service aims to make finding a job easier by connecting them with employers looking to recruit.
Commissioned by Salford City Council and provided by the Growth Company, the service offers tailored, one-to-one support, prioritising individuals’ needs, skills, interests, and goals. At the same time, it works with a wide range of local businesses and organisations to develop their recruitment practices.
Supported Employment has already delivered on many of its promises. Remarkably, in the space of just a few months, the service has recorded 62 referrals and 48 service starts.
For the individual themselves, this means greater financial independence and social inclusion, as well as improved health, wellbeing, and self-confidence; for employers, it means increased productivity, better staff retention and morale, and a more inclusive workplace; and for Salford, it means a fairer, healthier, and more sustainable community.
These benefits are exemplified by the experience of Supported Employment partner Jigsaw Facilities Ltd.
A Salford business which offers eco-friendly commercial cleaning services across Greater Manchester and the Northwest, Jigsaw Facilities has been a Disability Confident Employer for many years. As part of this commitment, they employ people with a wide range of physical and mental impairments, including people with autism and learning disabilities.
When Jigsaw Facilities heard about the launch of the Salford Supported Employment Service in March, they were eager to participate. As the firm’s general manager, Lilly Crawley, explained:
“Employing people with a disability, particularly autism, isn’t just a tick box operation for us; it’s a passion as many of the management team including myself have close relatives with autism and understand the pressures they can face within the working world.”
Lilly added: “Companies who employ people with autism can only benefit from doing so, with each individual adding their own personality and talents into your business.
“If you are having doubts I would advise any employer to do their research as there are many misconceptions around people with autism. Being able to offer paid employment to people with learning disabilities and autism is a wonderful experience and is something every company should consider doing.”
Councillor Bill Hinds, lead member for Skills and Work, Business and Workforce, Salford City Council said: “As well as supporting participants to find work, the service is here to provide practical help and advice to employers too. There is lots of free training and support on offer to help employers become more disability confident, such as disability in the workplace awareness training, support to develop flexible recruitment approaches, and advice to ensure any reasonable adjustments are in place when employing people with disabilities, including those with a learning disability or autism.”
Michelle Leeson, Managing Director for employment at the Growth Company, commented: “GC is committed to making sure that people with learning disabilities and autism can access the support they need to be able to find and thrive in paid work; as well as helping employers who want to reap the benefits of a more neurodiverse workforce.
“The Supported Employment Service is an effective way to achieve both goals, and a large part of this is due to the enthusiasm and foresight of employers such as Jigsaw Facilities.”
If you would prefer to chat to the team face-to-face, we are also hosting a series of drop-in sessions at Gateways across Salford between 10am and 2pm on the following dates: