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04 December 2014

Thursday 4 December

On Wednesday 3 December it was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and in recognition of that we have been promoting examples of the range of Inclusion work that takes place across our network and in our programmes.

Each day of London Youth Inclusion Week we have been posting new content on our website from our members, our outdoor centres and our programmes.

In our fourth piece this week, we spoke to Vince Lydon from Royal London Society for Blind People and Reshma Karia from City & Hackney Mind, both of whom work with our employability programme Talent Match London, about their work with disabled young people.

Vince LydonCommunity Services Manager

Tell us about your organisation:

RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People) work with young people across London delivering services to blind and visually impaired including Employability, Sport and Social Peer groups to help young people live beyond the levels of sight loss.

Tell us about your work with young people with disabilities on their journey to employment:

Our bespoke employability programme with young people is designed to improve their employability skills, with the aim of making them job ready.

This we achieve through a range of group and one to one sessions to focus on their skills development including developing their CV, Presentation and Interview Skills and helping them source volunteering and work placement opportunities as well as with the actual presentation.

We also provide them with experience using Assistive Technology they would need to use in the workplace.

What are the biggest challenges the young people you work with have on their journey to employment?

Our work with young people is designed to improve their employability skills, with the aim of making them job ready. The biggest challenge experienced by our young people is a lack of appreciation of a real work environment and what will be expected of them.

We address this by getting them exposure to the work environment by sourcing volunteering, work trials and work placement opportunities, combined with 1-2-1  and  group support sessions preparing them for work. Other challenges facing are clients will be travel across London using public transport and building self-confidence around independence relating to employability. 

Reshma Karia, Employment Adviser

Tell us about your organisation:

City & Hackney Mind is the leading providers of voluntary sector mental health services in East London.  We provide a range of holistic services to promote wellbeing, social inclusion, and independence and to challenge stigma associated with mental health difficulties. Our services include advocacy, carers support, employment & education, welfare rights, wellbeing and counselling and psychotherapy.

Tell us about your work with young people with disabilities on their journey to employment:

Currently as part of Talent Match Hackney we have successfully engaged 30 young people to access education, training, voluntary work, apprenticeships, wellbeing workshops and full and part time paid employment. TMH are currently providing outreach services for young people aged 18-24 who are experiencing their first psychotic episode (Early and Quick Intervention in Psychosis). These young people may find it hard to think straight, may hear voices or may feel persecuted. We work alongside psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists to provide a holistic and comprehensive support package.

Below is just one example out of a number of a young person’s employability journey:

One young person has been supported to attend three interviews with retailers such as Hotel Chocolat, Superdry and Topman, and is still awaiting a response from Superdry. He has also recently enrolled onto AAT accountancy and bookkeeping course at Hackney Community College, has made progression starting his own business and has been volunteering for three months supporting disabled people get into sports. Due to this young person’s mental health and medication, he requires additional support around concentration, organising his workload, time management and stress and wellbeing to keep him well and to manage his commitments.

What are the biggest challenges the young people you work with have on their journey to employment?

There are many barriers and challenges facing the young people with mental health problems accessing employment and maintaining their emotional and mental health in the face of the challenges of finding and seeking employment. These include extra pressure and demands of work, managing their time, finding a healthy work life balance, dealing with setbacks in terms of finding suitable work and anxieties around their performance and ability to maintain their jobs.

Often these young people suffer with low self-esteem and low confidence and this poses additional challenge.

Two of the young people I have worked with recently have dropped out of university due to their mental health deteriorating whilst studying. They have highlighted that a combination of the pressure of studying, lack of support and being away from home had triggered their psychotic episode. This has also affected their confidence in moving on from this, and taking on new challenges.

Many young people I have worked with have had unstable family and home environments and as a result have lacked the guidance that may have benefited them and this has affected their performance at school and college and resulted in lack of qualifications.

In light of these challenges in working with young people with mental health and emotional problems, I have found that extra encouragement, reassurance, reminders of appointments, motivational techniques, confidence building and support to manage their wellbeing have all been useful in helping the young people on their journey to employment.