It’s little surprise to learn that people with a learning disability often face major challenges finding paid work. A lack of inclusive opportunities and negative attitudes towards learning disability have affected the ability of people like Nick and Rita (pictured above) to find meaningful employment.

But by taking part in Mencap and Inclusive Employers’ Learning Disability Work Experience Week, Nick and Rita both had work placements at the major law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton – which led to paid jobs.

Here they tell their stories.

Rita’s story

I’d been looking for work after being made redundant from a long-term job. I have a background working in printing and publications but my role was made redundant – I had to find something new.

I found it difficult filling in application forms – especially ones online – and this made it hard for me to apply for jobs unless I had support. I wasn’t getting anywhere, it was really hard. 

I was put in touch with Jon, who’s an employment advisor at Mencap. He helped me to prepare my CV and apply for jobs. There was one job at a law firm that I wanted to apply for, but again I looked at the application process and I didn’t do it.

The job I had at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton I couldn’t have got without Jon’s support. He helped me to understand the application process better. The interview was good, and the job involves doing a variety of things. It's archiving mainly - filing and scanning documents. We use some databases that are specific to law firms, so that was very good experience. I've enjoyed it very much. They're friendly here, it's a very nice place to work.

Mencap have helped me to apply for jobs and put me in touch with employers – a lot more companies are employing people with a learning disability now.

I’m more confident at interviews now, but finding a job will still be quite difficult for me. But if I get Jon's help, I'll be okay. I wouldn't mind carrying on working with law firms, but I'm quite open really. I'm going for admin jobs.

Having a job has given me money to do the things I like! I don’t like not having a job, it’s good discipline to help motivate myself to do things. I like the structure and routine that having a job brings.

Nick’s story

I’d been out of work for nearly two years after a temporary job I had came to an end. I’d been keeping myself busy volunteering and applying for jobs, but the opportunities were hard to find. Things started to change when I was put in touch with Mencap’s employment service and found a placement with Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton during Learning Disability Work Experience week last year.

I’m now in my second paid job, the first was from six months at a finance company. The role was quite similar to what I currently do now - helping out in the office, putting data into spreadsheets, typing up documents, doing stationery orders.

After my first job ended I spent quite a while trying to find paid work, I was going back and forth trying to find jobs and apply for them. Having work experience really helped, as it led to paid job.

When I heard I’d got the job I currently have I was over the moon, to be honest! I’d been helping them out so when I heard there was more work a longer I was thrilled.

It's been really fantastic. Everyone is really nice, very friendly and smiley; it's a very friendly atmosphere to work in.

I have more confidence now, and working has given me a schedule for each day to keep to. I feel more confident speaking now too; before I couldn't really put my words together, usually I wouldn't say very much or be very forward with speaking or want to say anything. I was shy.

My message to other people with a learning disability who are looking for support from Mencap is go for it, definitely go for it. Mencap have been excellent at what they do and dedicated at finding work for people with a learning disability, When you're working with them, it makes you feel positive, and it leaves a lasting impression. They're all very friendly as well, of course!