Funding boost just the job for employment project

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A WARWICKSHIRE service which helps people with learning disabilities into work has been awarded European funding to increase job opportunities with local employers.

Many people with learning disabilities in Warwickshire have been supported to train and find work thanks to WEST (Warwickshire Employment Support Team). Run by the county council, WEST develops people’s skills and confidence to secure paid employment and increase their independence.

WEST submitted a winning bid to the European Social Fund (ESF) and has now been awarded £13,000 to invest in a programme to engage with more than a hundred local employers on the recruitment of learning disabled people.

WEST will be working with national experts, from the British Association of Supported Employment (BASE), to develop the programme which will deliver training and champion best practice across the county. BASE is the national association representing hundreds of agencies involved in securing employment for people with disabilities.

Significant barriers are faced by people with learning disabilities when seeking employment and, despite many people with learning disabilities in Warwickshire wanting a job, it is estimated that only 6% are actually in paid work.

Huw Davies of the British Association of Supported Employment said: “Supported Employment is recognised as the most effective way of securing employment for people with disabilities and we look forward to working with the Council and local business partners in this important and valuable project. BASE will be offering strategic support as WEST engages with a range of employers, both large and small, across Warwickshire. We hope it will lead to significantly improved employment rates for severely disabled people in the county.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Portfolio Holder for Adult, Health and Community Services at Warwickshire County Council, said: “People with learning disabilities tell us they want to have the same opportunities to get a job as anybody else and this funding is a tremendous boost. This is about more than just a job, it is about changing people’s lives to increase their confidence, achieve greater personal and financial independence and make a positive contribution to society.”

The WEST Service is keen to hear from any Warwickshire employers who would like to get involved with the project.

For more information about the WEST service please contact Annette Skermer, Manager, on (024) 7638 5200.