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Supported Employment looks set to be hit by the recession

With the gloomy economy and high unemployment, it’s difficult to find anything to get excited about with regards to the UK’s job market. The youth job market is the most affected with growing concerns that there could be a “lost generation”, however disabled people are also suffering. Over 65% of people with learning difficulties are keen to work, however the figures published by the British Association of Supported Employment, highlight the fact that just 6.4% are currently in paid employment – a figure that looks likely to decrease.

Therefore, when any positive news comes along its best to celebrate when it happens, this is very much the case in Trafford, Greater Manchester, where there are some fantastic examples of how a supported employment project which is run by United Response can get people with learning disabilities into work, helping them thrive as individuals and make an effective contribution to their employers.  This service recently entered its seventh year and so far has helped hundreds of people.

The Manchester Evening News recently celebrated the progress made by the project with a full page cover story. One of the people featured was Luanne Horton, 21, who got into contact with United Response in the hope that they could help her find work. Luanne has Down’s Syndrome and has reading and writing difficulties, so she was helped by job coach Maria Williams to put together a decent CV. Luanne felt she that had the relevant skills to be able to practical and so, inspired by Luanne’s love of fashion, went on a job search near to her home in Sale.

JLF hairdressers in Sale Moor decided to take her on as an assistant and Luanne’s main job role is to greet customers and making drinks, sorting hair products and tidying up the salon. Jess France, owner of JLF stated that Luanne is an asset to the business: “She’s very reliable and she has really come out of her shell since she’s been here.”

Ali Bishop, who has been one of the lynchpins behind Trafford Supported Employment since the beginning, states that the project not only helps individuals and businesses but also saves the taxpayer money so much money as it helps individuals “take the first steps towards financial independence. They might be people like Luanne who, may not be able to come off benefits entirely, but when she is working she is not accessing things like day care services…It’s about being less reliant on the state.”

The Manchester Evening News agreed in an overwhelming positive leader column which gave their full backing to the project.  “The scheme offers people with learning difficulties extensive support, including help from a dedicated job coach. Could that be replicated for others finding it hard to get work? It would, of course, cost money. But can we afford not to try?… With the scheme in Trafford we have a successful model. Perhaps it’s time to widen its reach.”

But here’s the dilemma. Far from investing more in…

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