Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Employment for young people with Learning Disabilities

Across the country 6% of people with learning disabilities have employment.

We have many young people with learning disabilities who want work and have useful skills and assets that could be beneficial to employers. Many of these young people  have the types of qualities that employers are seeking - they are reliable, loyal and hard-working. In a tight labour market, such as we have in Surrey, employers increasingly need to seek out the "hidden" pools of talent (a phrase that I have learnt from Louise Punter at Surrey Chambers of Commerce). Some young people with autism, for example, are highly talented in logic and numeracy and can bring huge value to IT and financial functions in an organisation.

This is why we are initiating a cross-sector collaboration in conjunction with Surrey Chambers of Commerce, Surrey County Council, Halow and a range of other charities and employers to address this issue. At the first meeting, one of the major issues identified was purely that employers do not know about the possibilities or, if they do, they have put it on the "too hard" pile. The collaborative group will be seeking to address these issues and others.

If you are an employer interested in finding out more about employing a young person with a learning disability, please do get in touch.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Core-porate Social Responsibility

There is a growing thirst in the private sector to do more Corporate Social Responsibility or “Giving Back”. Companies are realising that CSR makes good business sense – by helping key objectives such as recruitment and retention, it directly serves their bottom line. In these cash strapped times, where the "rolling back" of public services is affecting the most vulnerable in society, this is good news. Indeed, we believe that the contribution that businesses could be making as they go about their daily business is huge. 

Take Timpsons -  the key cutting and shoe repairing business – 10% of their 3400 staff are ex-offenders. These staff are employed on day release, whilst still in prison, thus easing their transition to a different life on the outside.  The reoffending rate of these Timpson employees is 3% versus around 45% for ex-offenders in general. Whilst some of this difference may be down to careful recruitment on Timpson's part, surely not all? This has helped Timpsons to get a highly motivated, loyal workforce and done a huge service to society and the public purse: how much would it have cost councils and/or charities to turn that many people's lives around?

If you haven't heard it, I highly recommend listening to the John Timpson interview that was broadcast on Radio 4's Desert Island Disks a few weeks ago -  you can download the Podcast from the BBC.  

The key to really making a difference is ensuring that the CSR activities are part of CORE business, serving business objectives, and not just a bit on the side.  

If you are a company or youth charity in Surrey and are interested in exploring this more, do drop me a line.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Who would you turn to if you had a mental health problem?

Well, looks like my resolution to write more often was broken pretty quickly? Still, I am pleased to say that I stuck to my dry January.

We have collaborated with our members on two different projects about young people's mental health funded by Healthwatch. I was struck by a discussion with a colleague this week that I thought worth mentioning in the blog.

Where would you turn to if you had a mental health problem? Online? Family? Friends? GP? 

Our sample of young people would look online first and maybe go to a friend. Only a subset would go to a professional such as teacher or GP. Few would go to parents. 

I will say that again. Only a subset would go to a professional and few would go to parents.

This leaves us with a real challenge as to how to support young people with mental health. We can have all the services in the world but if they don’t make use of them, what’s the point? This needs to be the starting point for all service designs.

Any comments? Ideas? Feel free to respond or email me.