Support given backing in Calderdale to help young people with learning disabilities into work

Health chiefs agreed to support ways in which young people with learning disabilities can be helped to find employment.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 12:00 pm
Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), Calderdale Council Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on young people with learning difficulties detrimentally, locally and nationally, in this respect, said Calderdale Council’s service manager for contract commissioning, Karen Midgley.

Prior to the pandemic, Calderdale’s figure of eight per cent of these young people being in employment was not great, although the borough were good performers.

But during the pandemic, this had dropped to four per cent which was “pitiful” she said.

Ms Midgley said there were 680 people registered with the council and 33 of them were in paid employment.

Nationally, 15 per cent was the best figure reached.

Employment brought social and financial advantages to the young people and boosted their mental health and confidence, she said.

“It is really important those correct employment opportunities, pathways and support for people when they leave school.

“It leads to greater independence, it’s good for the person,” said Ms Midgley.

Multiple agencies were involved in a strategy to address this gap, especially for two age groups particularly affected, those leaving school and those post-25 (there is already a project aimed at 18-25 year-olds), including looking at a more diverse offer taking in areas like horticulture and music, and working to bring in external providers.

Ms Midgley also asked all board partners to look at their own workforces to see how diverse they were and how they might offer employment to someone with a learning disability.

Also, more creative job advertising was needed, she told members of Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board, who were considering the issue.

Karen Graham of Cloverleaf Advocacy said from an employers’ point of view they looked at how they advertised specific roles and the application and interview process used a person-centred approach to ease the process.

Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), Calderdale Council Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, said an internship offer was a good idea and board members hoped these might lead to paid employment.

The council had a great strategy for care leavers and he wondered if this could be adapted to help young people with learning disabilities.

Dr Steven Cleasby asked how employers might best be able to access the young people that might work for them.

“There is some brilliant work going on but we have a long way to go on this,” he said.

Assistant Director for Adult Social Care Operations, Sean Cook, said Calderdale partners were working to ensure support was in place to support the young people to lead as full a life in constrained – by the pandemic – circumstances as possible.