Welcome to the Expanding Worlds Podcast
In this episode we continue the series Ways Into Work exploring the role of employers, education providers, government agencies and parents in creating Supported Internship programs that help young people with additional needs find and retain paid work. Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project Search also discusses why developing employability skills along with the presumption of employment needs to become the place we start at when it comes to education for our children.
In this new series Ways Into Work we start off by looking at Supported Internships how they work and why this model has proved so successful at getting young people with additional needs into long term paid employment. Claire Cookson the CEO of DFN Project Search explains how the program works and the different people involved, such as job coaches. She also discusses why the way success is measured matters so much for programs like these.
After speaking to organisations in both the UK and USA, I believe there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in the future, despite the recent impact of employment opportunities for young people with additional needs due to Covid. It seems to me that we collectively have a stronger sense of community after the last year, and we place greater value on other human beings. If we capitalise on this change in priorities then, just maybe, we can change presumptions when it comes to employment.
How many friends do you have? Possibly not as many as you had before you had a child with additional needs. This is a harsh but true fact. Friends slowly disappear because they don’t understand or they’re afraid. I have both lost and gained friends because my daughter has additional needs. It’s a bit like when someone passes away some people come around others stay away because they don’t know what to say.
My ultimate objective is to get rid of my daughter. That’s not quite as bad as it sounds! My goal is to enable my youngest daughter to move out and live in a place of her own. When I have spoken on the podcast to people involved in training programs, one common theme has been that often the young people that come to them lack some of the basic daily living skills.
What’s in a part time or Saturday job? An awful lot, I believe, if you’re a young person with additional needs. I should qualify that by acknowledging that for some young people there will be restrictions on the kind of jobs they can hold down because of the nature of their needs.
Young people with additional needs should have the opportunity to live independently in a way right for them. The podcast is about sharing stories and sharing solutions that enable parents and carers to support them on this path to greater independence.
Independence for most people consists of three things:
1) Having a purpose for the day – usually paid employment, but possibly a place to go to make a contribution to the world.
2) Having the daily living skills for independence – being able to look after ourselves, cooking, shopping.
3) Having relationships with family, friends and maybe a partner one day.
There is also an additional consideration that serves as the foundation of all these – financial security. Like it or not money often dictates how we live our lives, and we need to confront the issue of how our children will survive financially when we are gone. Money is an essential building block to achieving greater independence. Money is not only about the day to day management of money but also the financial planning necessary by us to give our children the opportunity to live an independent life. If you are interested in finding out the ways to build this financial security for your young person then visit our sister site theredgiraffesolutions.com
The pandemic will have a disproportionate effect on the lives of young people with additional needs. This is true. But whilst there are organisations out there like Spectrum designs then it’s not all bad news. In this episode, the final episode in my series on the impact of the pandemic on employment for young people with additional needs, I talk to Tim and Patrick from Spectrum Designs about how they have dealt with the last year and how they are committed to keep moving forward to create even more work opportunities.
Who opens a coffee shop during a pandemic? Well the guys at Able Coffee Roasters do! In this episode,part of the series on the impact of the pandemic on employment for young people with additional needs, I talk to Adeel and Anthony about exactly how they did this and why community support has helped them do even better than they had expected. Just like a good coffee this episode really is a wake up call to what is possible, even during a pandemic.
Neil Willows, from Pure Innovations, discusses the impact of Covid and the UK lockdown on the supported internship programs Pure Innovations runs. He talks about the effect it has had on paid employment opportunities and young people’s mental health. But he also outlines the ways they are working to open up job roles and find new ways to help young people get work placements that will enable them to one day move into paid employment.