We are now more than halfway through our four year, Big Lottery funded project When I Grow Up (http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk/our-work/employment-education/when-i-grow-up/) raising the aspirations of educators, families and young people in seeking employment. The project brings together schools, families and local employers to improve the chances of young people moving into work after leaving school or college. The programme works with two other schools and colleges in Newbury and the London Borough of Redbridge.
Last year we held three family workshops to provide information to families about what is available after their child leaves school provided by Kent Supported Employment, Kent Children’s Services and Kent Transport. We also had presentations by a Mum who has supported her son into a Saturday job with great success, and a school leaver who talked about his experiences in work placements.
Wilmington Academy has developed a large pool of employers over the past years providing quality work experience placements in the areas, ranging from shops, children’s playschool, golf course, and garden centre. One young man left school into employment this past term.
The When I Grow Up project is supporting the schools to help young people experience the world of work while they are still in school or college as most of us have done in our lives. Young people who have been part of the project and are now working tell us that ‘a job is about more than money, it gives a purpose in life, and builds confidence’
And from a Mum’s perspective:
‘In the short time my son has been doing his job, he has become more confident and willing to undertake and follow instructions. We were worried at the start but he has made the challenge, his dream, a reality. He enjoys being part of a team and feels he is doing something worthwhile.’
The current issue facing Wilmington Academy is the current lack of ongoing support for the young people to find paid employment when they leave full time education. While Kent council has a supported employment service they have not been involved with young people still in school. Evidence suggests that supported employment and job coaching is the most effective way to support people with learning disabilities into a work. This is where we want to use our energies for the last half of the project. We want to work with families, young people and teachers to help find jobs that young people can do while still in school and waiting for job experiences.
This year we have provided Milestone and Wilmington Academy with the When I Grow Up Facilitators Handbook and materials so that they can incorporate the various modules within their school curriculums to support young people yrs 12+ to develop their plans for getting a job.
We will also be continuing our workshops with families to support them in getting the information they need and want to further their child’s development into adulthood.
As one mother shared; Our children are very special people and the challenges they face daily are unmeasurable, but with the right support and encouragement anything can be possible.
If you are interested in getting involved in any of the workshops please contact Janet Tidmas at Milestone Academy.