A new supported employment service for people with learning and physical disabilities has been given the green light.

Following a competitive bidding process, Reading Borough Council has awarded Royal Mencap Society a contract to provide a Supported Employment Service in partnership with the Elevate Reading hub. The service will start taking referrals from March, and a Council grant of £20,000 a year will be allocated to the project for the 2014-2017 financial years.

Mencap has significant experience of operating the ‘Place and Train’ supported employment model - getting people into competitive employment first and providing training and assistance on the job.  Additionally, they are already working successfully with national employers who have a significant presence in Reading.

Lead Member for Adult Social Care, Cllr Rachel Eden said:

This Council has an ongoing commitment to narrowing the gap between those who thrive in our town, and those residents who, through no fault of their own, are being left behind. 

Sustainable employment opportunities can help people to turn their lives around. 

The Supported Employment Service will play an important part in getting people who may have suffered employment difficulties in the past back to work and living independent and fulfilling lives. 

Mencap’s Area Operations Manager, Nicky Payne said:

 We know that less than 10% of people with a learning disability are in paid work. This new service will take positive steps to change this, by supporting local people with a learning disability and other disabilities to overcome the significant barriers they face in moving towards paid work. 

 The service will help individuals to develop existing skills and learn new skills that employers say they will need from their future workforce if they are to remain competitive and sustainable – particularly in this climate of economic growth. 

 Greater numbers of people with a learning disability and other disabilities will have paid employment as a result of this service, which will lead to a strong local employer network where increased opportunities for paid work will be realised. 

Nigel Horton-Baker of Reading UK CIC, who are managing the Elevate Reading service, said:

 With a rapidly growing economy there are more job opportunities than ever, but barriers to employment remain. Mencap’s particular expertise and nationally recognised brand will complement those of the Elevate partners in supporting disabled people to make the journey into work simpler and more rewarding. 

For more information on the Supported Employment Service, please contact Ruth Collins ruth.collins@mencap.org.uk , 07903 643509

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About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities.

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.

www.mencap.org.uk  

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap Direct on 0808 808 1111 (9am-5pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.