WorkABILITY is a project run by Hertfordshire PASS, which is a charity helping disabled people to live independently. WorkABILITY helps to support young disabled people aged from 16 to 25 to “overcome barriers to work” We do this by running different activities and by the young people being referred to us and we in turn will help them to find work in the local area.
The six apprentices first canvasses employers to get them interested in what we are doing and to see whether the employers would be prepared to take on a young person, with a physical or learning disability, supported by a mentor, in their companies. We have been successful in the past in finding work for young people namely from different areas in Hertfordshire, in different companies such as a publishers near us , a company called SERCO, which collects rubbish from areas of Hertfordshire, and an Oxfam warehouse. We have also run successful sessions in which students from a local college have visited us to gain experience of what it is like to work for a company and what they would ask you to do.
The activities we have are around hopes and fears, barriers they may face while working e.g Access to Work, Benefits, Transport etc and the other things would be that they ask questions of adults who have faced challenges themselves who are either disabled or non disabled e.g Mat Fraser. We got the young people who attended the 2009 Summer Job Forum we had to ask Mat about his job and how to be in employment and what barriers he may have faced in work. We also had a role play in the afternoon of that session which went really successfully. We used the metaphor of Jack and the Beanstalk in relation to getting a job i.e the cow being a PlayStation, the beanstalk being the career ladder of opportunity, and the axe “breaking down barriers that the person would face in life. The mother of Jack was also the “parent trap” (meaning that parents might not understand about their son or daughter being independent).
We feel our work is very important as we are the only truly user driven project we know of.We allow the people we work with to decide and pursue what they want to do in relation to work experience instead of someone like Hertfordshire PASS or the college or their parents just going out and picking something for them. This is vital as people with physical or learning disabilities should certainly have the same opportunities as non disabled people. This is something that we’re all very passionate about, as we all have some form of disability ourselves.