Home Training and Development Major boost to employability prospects for people with disabilities in the West Midlands

Major boost to employability prospects for people with disabilities in the West Midlands

by Lisa Carr

A charity project that supports and enables people with disabilities in the West Midlands move towards their employment goals through bespoke training and mentoring has reached its funding goal after receiving a significant grant from the CareTech Foundation.  

Birmingham Disability Resource Centre’s Positive Pathways project engages with adults with disabilities across the West Midlands and South Staffordshire, working with them on individually-tailored pathways towards recovery using a person-centred approach through education, volunteering, and employment. 

The £45,000 grant from the CareTech Foundation will be spread across the programme’s three-year lifespan, helping at least 90 people with disabilities a year access the personalised, disabled-focussed help that the programme offers. 

The project is run by the Birmingham Disability Resource Centre, a charity established in 1992 and run by and for people with disabilities, including those with physical disability, learning disability, sensory impairment, long-term health conditions and mental ill-health. 

Positive Pathways aims to help any person with disabilities or person with a long-term condition who is looking to enter or return to employment, training or volunteering. Most beneficiaries are unemployed, and many are likely to lack basic skills including literacy, numeracy, and core skill training. They also lack relevant and recent work experience, appropriate qualifications and current vocational skills. 

The project offers support in three ways. There’s a two-day a week, six-week ‘Opportunities for Life’ programme that gives disabled people the skills, knowledge and confidence to move towards employment.  Secondly, the Opportunities Hub, where anyone who is on or who has been on one of employment programmes can drop-in for additional support. The third element involves mentoring and guidance, ensuring that disabled people engaged through Positive Pathways are receiving their full entitlements and any wider barriers preventing them from participating are resolved. The programme started before the pandemic affected delivery, but this has not slowed down the progress with support switching to online delivery in compliance with government guidelines.  

Tim Phillips, Chair of the Disability Resource Centre commented: “This project will give people with disabilities the skills and support that they need to make their dreams a reality. The partnership with the CareTech Foundation will help us begin work with our communities straight away.” 

Jonathan Freeman, CEO of the CareTech Foundation, commented: “Equipping people with disabilities with the tools to be able to gain independence and achieve their goals is central to the mission of the care sector. At a time where the jobs market is at its most hostile, the Positive Pathways Project will be vital in helping people with disabilities to develop the skills they need to flourish and it’s a privilege for the CareTech Foundation to be able to join them on this journey.” 

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