We know that having a job is something that is important to the vast majority of people with learning disabilities. We also know that only a fraction of those who want jobs, have got them.

And yet the benefits of working for even a few hours a week are huge – and it’s not just about money, important though that is. It’s about being included; about being part of a social network; and about making friends on an equal basis. It’s about the confidence boost and self esteem that comes from being valued for your abilities and for a job well done.

These benefits are not just for the most able. We’ve seen time and time again the benefits that even a few hours work a week can bring to people with complex learning disabilities, who may never have worked before – or worse, have been written off.

At United Response, we work hard to provide a range of training and opportunities for people with learning disabilities to help them acquire new skills and boost their employability. But none of that is any use if employers aren’t open to taking them on. We know that there are lots of employers out there who want to do the right thing, but need a bit of help to get started.

That’s why we were delighted to run a workshop session yesterday with Lloyds Banking Group and Three Hands – a company that links businesses and charities together for mutual benefit - to look at how they can do more to employ people with learning disabilities, across their operations.

The session was really positive. It was great to see such a senior group of people really passionate about making a difference – a difference that isn’t just tokenistic and about a few jobs for a few people this year, but a lasting legacy that sees Lloyds making a real commitment to a more inclusive workplace, now and into the future.

We will be working with Lloyds to look at “job carving” – where parts of a job can be put together to make a role that really works for someone with a learning disability. We'll also be looking at what “reasonable adjustments” could be made to recruitment and interview practice to help people with learning disabilities make it through the door.

In turn, Lloyds can help us evidence our impact in a much more robust way. We have great stories about individuals who are a real success in their jobs, but being able to evidence larger scale impact and hard business benefits is something we often struggle with.

The group at Lloyds clearly saw the real business benefit of employing more people with learning disabilities, so having their support to create a really robust business case is a massive plus!

We hope this is the start of a really productive and positive partnership and one that will persuade other employers to say “why not?”

Diane Lightfoot, Director of Communications and Fundraising.

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