I’ve been at PageGroup for 16 years, and over that time period we have supported a fantastic range of charities. A few weeks ago we held an employee vote for our next charity partnership and I was thrilled to see that Mencap and ENABLE Scotland would be our chosen charity partners for the next 12 months.
It was no surprise to me that the majority of our employees voted to support Mencap and ENABLE Scotland, as their employment programmes, which are dedicated to getting people with learning disabilities into work, are so aligned with what we do as recruitment professionals.
The UK Government doesn’t keep a detailed measure of how many people with a learning disability are in employment, but available figures suggest just 6% are in paid work. This number needs to change, and as we cannot rely solely on the Government to ensure this change, it is so important for businesses such as ours to partner with Mencap and ENABLE Scotland, in order to raise funds and generate awareness to support its programmes.
My step-brother Shaun has autism, as well as a learning disability. Like many adults with a learning disability, he faced many challenges while he was looking for a job, and for a long time, having the chance to experience the pride and joy that comes from holding a successful job seemed impossible to him.
The team at Mencap worked with him to build his skills and helped him find work on a 6-month placement and also asked him to become a representative for Mencap, which completely transformed him.
All of the support he’s received has made a world of difference and he has never been so happy and confident. He’s more outgoing, has built up a group of friends, and it has given him a sense of self-worth and belonging. In addition, it’s given him the contacts and confidence to pursue his love of acting -something he has become extremely passionate about.
As well as fundraising across our 28 UK offices throughout our partnership, we’ll also be sharing practical skills and advice with people who have a learning disability through skill-sharing workshops, the first taking place during Learning Disability Week (19-25 June).
We will be welcoming a group of people with a learning disability to one of our London offices and a number of our employees will be volunteering their time to help with CV writing tips and interview techniques training.
I’ve often heard of people with learning disabilities facing challenges such as understanding complicated application forms, negative attitudes and stressful interview processes. We’re determined to use the skills and influence we have as recruitment professionals, to raise awareness of this across the industry.
It’s not that people with a learning disability don’t want to work, or can’t work for that matter. There are so many roles that people with a learning disability can flourish in and feel really accountable for – in some cases, they are certainly more reliable, and maybe even do a better job than their colleagues.
For people who have a learning disability, having a job means much more than simply being able to earn money. It means feeling more independent and confident, but also more valued in society – something that everyone deserves. Everyone here at PageGroup is very excited about making this partnership a success, and as well as a great start to our office fundraising, we’ve also received a lot of interest in volunteering opportunities from our employees so far. I’m confident that this partnership will be a great step forward for PageGroup, Mencap and ENABLE Scotland.
If you have a learning disability and you're looking to find paid work, or you support someone who does, then find out more about how we might be able to help you.