Podcast Episode 33. One day soon people with additional needs will be valued as contributors to society and not just as passive recipients of social care, that is the vision that Matt and Steve from bemix (formerly Skillnet Group) share in this episode.
bemix support people with additional needs into employment and they do this by creating projects to develop work-related skills and through providing supported internships with employers. Matt is the Chief Executive of bemix and Steve is a former client, who is now a Non-Executive Director and acts as a mentor to the young people on internships with employers. As Steve explains he also spends a lot of his time educating employers as to why people with additional needs make great employees.
Steve talks about his journey where his initial involvement with bemix was through attending courses they put on; something he quickly decided wasn’t for him. He explains how he believed his strengths and interests lay in talking to others and helping to change their attitudes among employers. He speaks passionately about the need and desire that many people feel to live a life free of depending on benefits and handouts, instead earning their own money, and being empowered as a result of doing so. He also talked about how important it is to feel part of a community.
Matt explains that a key part of the operational structure of bemix is that they are not a charity, they are a social enterprise. While Matt acknowledges there are many charities, across varied sectors, that do excellent work, he believes that charities can often reinforce an imbalance of a power. bemix operate very much as a business and identify themselves as a social business – not a charity. They sell service and operate as a supportive and nurturing employment agency.
The future objectives of bemix include continuing to change perceptions about people with additional needs in the workplace. Matt sees a future where all employers will come to realize the real business benefits to their organization of employing young people with additional needs.