A disabled people’s organisation has secured £300,000 of National Lottery funding to support disabled young people into volunteer placements.
The three-year Including Disabled Volunteers project aims to provide workplace experience that will make it easier for young people to move into paid work, education or training.
Those taking part will be offered information, advice and guidance, as well as workshops and training on issues such as assertiveness, life skills, job-readiness training and job-seeking support.
The project is being run by Hammersmith and Fulham Action on Disability (HAFAD) and Hammersmith and Fulham Volunteer Centre.
Sarah Robinson, HAFAD’s fundraising manager, said the project would “make a huge difference to disabled young people who are desperate to work and desperate to have independent lives”.
She said many people find paid work as a result of volunteering opportunities, but young disabled people are not being offered such placements.
They also do not usually have the opportunity to build up their skills, CVs and confidence through the part-time or Saturday jobs that non-disabled young people often find while at school or college, she said.
Robinson said the opportunities were “really not there for them” and they were “not getting the kind of support that would help them get a job”.
She said the project would also provide support similar to that offered through the Access to Work scheme for disabled people in paid work.
She added: “When they are going for a job they will be able to talk confidently about how they use assistive technology or a personal assistant in the workplace.
“If you can do that in an interview and give an employer a vision of how it can work, it could dramatically improve your chances of getting a job.”
She warned that government support aimed at helping disabled people into jobs – through its new Work Programme and the Work Choice scheme – “really isn’t working, except for people who do not need much in the way of reasonable adjustments”.
Kamran Mallick, HAFAD’s director, said the two organisations were “thrilled” to receive the funding, which would “help to create a lasting change” and enable young disabled people to “raise their aspirations and confidence in their abilities”.
He said the project would “support the third sector to take a strategic approach to the removal of barriers that prevent disabled people from volunteering and gaining employment”.
18 October 2011