A multi-million pound programme designed to open up a wealth of employment opportunities for young disabled Londoners has been announced by City Bridge Trust.
The City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, City Bridge Trust, aims to narrow the employment gap for young disabled people in the capital with a new £3.3million fund for organisations tackling the issue.
Starting in September, over the next five years the Bridge to Work Programme will provide funding for projects which offer employability support for young disabled people, and strengthen links between employers and the disabled community.
Within the £3.3 million is a pot of £516,000 to support paid work experience and internships for young disabled Londoners in charities and the private sector – with an emphasis on working with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The programme has three main aims:
- Supporting disabled people aged 16-30 into paid employment.
- Sustaining disabled people in paid employment – through advice, support and developing good practice.
- Strengthening the links between potential employers and disabled young Londoners, including improving recruitment processes.
The organisations awarded grants for the programme are:
Action on Disability/ Inclusion London – £775,000 to deliver specialist and personalised approaches to employment support, brokerage with employers and skills development, as well as research, evaluation and strategic policy work.
Action for Kids – £250,000 to offer support through job coaching, employment brokering, work related learning and travel training to young people with moderate to severe learning disabilities.
National Autistic Society (NAS) – £199,000 to support young Londoners with autism into employment through the development of an online training resource which will support job seekers to build their employment skills and confidence in finding work. NAS will also inform and educate job centres on how to best support autistic job seekers to find work.
Muscular Dystrophy UK – £276,000 to provide internal work experience placements and offer advice and support on employment rights and opportunities targeted particularly at young people in universities, clinics and colleges across London
Royal Mencap – £350,000 to provide a support service for job seekers and employees with learning difficulties, as well as a programme of support for employers.
Whizz-Kidz – £384,000 to introduce and roll out a specialist work experience model for young people with disabilities across 18 local authorities in London
Employment rates have risen steadily in the capital over the last ten years. However, only half of working-age disabled people in London are in employment, compared to nearly four out of five non-disabled people.
The Bridge To Work programme aims to use learning from these projects to better inform government and other funders in getting more disabled people into work. Following the recent release of a green paper from the Department for Work and Pensions which examines the disability employment gap, it is hoped that this work funded by the Trust will have a positive influence on future government policy.
Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust committee, said:
“There is a clear need for more support in getting young disabled people into work. We recognise that the barriers to employment faced by disabled people can be multiple and complex, but many challenges can be overcome with the right support.
“We are certain this new programme will really transform lives of young disabled people. The charities we are funding will give employers the support, skills and resources they need to increase opportunities for disabled people.
“The programme has a wider mission and is looking to influence policy in this area and make real long term change for the disabled community.”
Graham Duncan, CEO, Action for Kids, commented:
“We are absolutely delighted that City Bridge Trust has decided to make such a significant investment in our work which will help to boost the employment prospects of young people with learning disabilities.”
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, added:
“Our Moving Up programme has already helped dozens of young disabled people to receive support and work opportunities that they otherwise would struggle to get. City Bridge Trust’s commitment to continue their support for another five years will help us take the work from strength to strength and combat the disability employment gap.”
Jack McLellan, 25, from the London Borough of Havering has an undiagnosed form of muscular dystrophy. He says: “I was so disheartened when I first tried to find work after university that I needed a real boost to my confidence and skills to get on the right track. The Moving Up programme helped me gain experience, try out new roles and get that crucial break of a first job. I hope this new support means lots more young people are given the same chance to show their worth.”
City Bridge Trust provides grants totalling around £20 million per year towards charitable activity benefitting Greater London. The Trust has awarded around 7,600 grants totalling over £365 million since it first began in 1995. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, tackling disadvantage across the Capital. City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.