Saturday, 13 July 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Saturday, 13 July 2024

John Lyon’s Charity invests £500,000 to empower disabled youth careers

JOHN Lyon’s Charity ring-fences half a million pounds to revolutionise career opportunities for young people with disabilities following the latest report findings.

Since 1991, one of London’s biggest grant-giving Funders, John Lyon’s Charity (JLC), has transformed the lives of children and young people through educational opportunities.

The charity’s latest report, entitled A New Perspective, was published recently as the next instalment in JLC’s Perspective series of reports, and advocates for more high-quality, accessible arts and cultural programmes for D/deaf, visually impaired, disabled, and neurodivergent young people.

Following discussions with special schools, charities, and Arts organisations, the report identified the urgent need for investment in employment opportunities and support systems for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities as they transition out of education and into the world of work, due to the significant barriers faced. The report also identified that Special schools believe that career pathways in the Arts sector are limited, with a staggering three-quarters of schools interviewed estimating that less than 10% of the available pathways are within the Arts.

Supporting the report’s findings, research commissioned by the Charity shows:

  • A staggering 42% of UK adults believe that the traditional education system which leads into the professional career pathway in the UK is not effective for individuals who are either deaf, disabled and or neurodiverse.
  • 58% of decision-makers in the UK either do not offer or are unsure of the career opportunities for young people who are deaf, disabled or neurodivergent within their company.
  • The three key barriers that UK adults believe to affect the professional careers of individuals who are either deaf, disabled or neurodiverse are lack of understanding of appropriate needs (34%), lack of opportunities (33%) and discrimination from companies (28%).

Recent data by the House of Commons revealed that from October to December 2023, the rate of employment for disabled people was 54.2% compared to 82.0% for people who were not disabled, meaning that the disability employability gap was 27.9 percentage points.

Dr Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity reflected on these figures and said:

“This just isn’t good enough. We want our new report to challenge Policymakers, Funders, Arts organisations, and businesses across the board to reevaluate their offering when it comes to people with learning and access needs. We want those who are able to implement vital changes to really ask themselves ‘Are we doing enough?’ because the sad reality is, the answer is no.”

John Lyon’s Charity has ring-fenced half a million pounds through its Home-School-Community Strategy, (the charity’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and Cost of Living crisis) to create a blueprint of best practices for increasing the number of inclusive work opportunities across the Arts sector and to provide capacity-building information sessions for Arts organisations interested in creating more inclusive working environments. To do this effectively, the charity is working with Pursuing Independent Paths (PIP) which will be supporting both the host Arts organisations and the individual young people, to make their internship placements a success.

Lynne continued:

“Through our funding opportunities, we want to encourage more employers to use our new report, resources and initiatives as a guide to offer long-term work placements and permanent job opportunities for disabled people.”

Shardonnay Roseman, a student at PIP, was recruited as an Office Assistant at John Lyon’s Charity through its supported internship for adults with learning disabilities and autism.

She said:

“Through JLC’s internship, I have gained valuable experience welcoming guests and organising daily office operations. I’m lucky to have this opportunity, but many others like me need similar chances.”

Demonstrating its commitment to increasing opportunities available for D/deaf, visually impaired, disabled, and neurodivergent young people, the Charity launched its inaugural podcast series, Stronger Voices Together, which is hosted by esteemed disability activist, Lucy Edwards.

You can continue your exploration into the diverse world of disability and inclusion by listening to the most recent episode ‘Building Career Pathways – Uncovering Untapped Potential’, featuring Shardonnay Roseman, which reflects on the benefits of inclusion in the workplace and calls for the systematic change needed to bridge the employability gap.

Funding is available to Arts and Cultural organisations that meet the Charity’s funding criteria.  For more information, see the charity’s website.

To find out more about JLC’s funding opportunities, please visit:


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