Why We Do It
In West Sussex, only 3.2% of known people with learning difficulties are in paid employment. This means 96.8% are unemployed and living on benefits – often never leaving home, living as dependants – and increasingly likely to remain so. In addition, this long term unemployment will statistically contribute to reduced physical, mental and emotional wellbeing which will impact on healthcare and NHS resources.
In short, unemployment is a massive burden to any economy. BUT many people with moderate learning difficulties are ABLE to work. Many people with moderate learning difficulties WANT to work. So why don’t they?
Some of the reasons that have become apparent to Kate in her years in SEND education are:
Inadequate work experience placements whilst at school or college due to low expectations of employers, or the ‘fear’ of working with people that may require ‘too much extra time or support’.
Insufficient emphasis placed on the importance of teaching work related skills, as defined by our partner group #Skillsbuilder
Detrimental college experiences. For students who have spent most of their education in well supported Special Schools, the move to mainstream colleges can be overwhelming, and in some cases, damaging. Even for those who do not drop out (and disappear into the system), the lack of transition support into next step placements and careers means they leave college with nothing to show for their time there, rendering their college years nothing more than a ‘holding pen’.
The mainstream workplace is not always accessible for highly skilled people with autism, such as trainees Libby and Gemma, who are graduates in creative arts but find the prospect of communicating with clients and colleagues inhibiting.
Learned passivity. As young people used to the system and the people around them supporting their needs, resilience, perseverence and creativity – and other skills associated with the identifying and seizing of self serving opportunities – are often absent in SEND job seekers. In short, no one has taught them the entrepreneurial skills needed to create opportunity for themselves.
What many employers have overlooked, are the BENEFITS of employing people from the SEND community. Attention to detail, work positivity, diligent attendance, enjoyment of repetitive activities, sense of humour, thinking outside the box, honesty, fun… I don’t choose to work with this community out of a sense of charitable duty. These young people have inspired and contributed to some of the best business and enterprise ideas I’ve ever had and each day I go to work excited by what we will all come up with next. Kate, MD
Meet the Team
Not only are we experienced teachers, but we each have a specialist business interest which is specifically matched to trainees, to suit their interests and potential career pathways. Our aim is to create a supportive working environment, different from the classroom experience they will be used to. They will be treated as employees in our business in which we facilitate their progression towards independence and an entrepreneurial spirit!
Kate Wilson, Founder & MD
Marita Bianco, Senior Partner
Libby Manville, Junior Content Producer and Teaching Assistant
George Overington, Filmmaker
Beki Tonks, Corporate Relationship Lead
Creating pathways that are ASPIRATIONAL, ACHIEVABLE, and ACCESSIBLE