Last month, we were sad to say goodbye to our news correspondent, David Allkins, who began a full time role working for Cornwall Council.

Since early 2015, David Allkins has been an invaluable part-time member of our Communications Team. As news correspondent, he has served as our video journalist and online reporter for disability issues and related current affairs, boosting the profile of the work United Response does, and finding out about Government policies and how they affect disabled people.

Watch David’s final film 

In his final film for United Response, David wanted to talk about something close to his own heart; employment, learning disability, and his journey towards a full-time job:

David, who has Asperger’s syndrome and communication difficulties, was originally referred to United Response by his local job centre in Newquay.

David never had any problems getting job interviews, but his lack of confidence about his ability in formal job interviews, and difficulty to disclose the fact that he has Asperger’s, meant that he was unsuccessful in securing employment.

The job coaching that David received from United Response, and his part-time roles for us, helped him to prepare for interviews, build his confidence, and be able to disclose his Asperger’s to would-be employers.

Find out about United Response Supported Employment services

David began to work part-time as a translator for Easy News, using his knowledge of current affairs and disability to produce Easy Read news articles for United Response’s award winning accessible news magazine. He also became a valued part-time member of staff at our Truro supported employment office, working as an office administrator. 

In January 2015 he was shortlisted from a number of candidates to become our news correspondent.

In the last 18 months David has established himself as an excellent communicator and highly professional journalist. He was a huge contributing factor to the success of our Every Vote Counts campaign. His films covered the issue of making politics easier to understand for people with learning disabilities in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the 2015 UK General Election.

David was the first reporter to interview the newly appointed Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, after the last General Election. And he has regularly spoken to government and opposition spokespersons for his reports, as well as commentators and disabled people to gather grassroots opinions.

Most recently, David reported on the relaunch of our Every Vote Counts campaign, finding out the facts and encouraging people with learning disabilities to vote at the forthcoming EU Referendum.

David has been a tremendous advocate for all people with learning disabilities, using his voice and interest in current affairs to raise awareness of disability issues and promote change.

Everybody here at United Response would like to say a huge thank you to David for all of his hard work, and to wish him all the very best for the future.

We also want to assure David of our ongoing commitment to make sure that full-time paid employment becomes a reality for more people with learning disabilities, autism and Asperger’s.

United Response has recently submitted our thoughts on how the Government is meeting its targets on the disability employment gap, making the point that there is a far wider ‘learning disability employment gap’.

Download our submission to the Work and Pensions Committee on the disability employment gap

We continue to talk to the Department of Work and Pensions, to try to influence the debate and shape future Government policies and employment programmes to help more people with learning disabilities into the work place.

Keep reading our blogs and Facebook posts, and follow us on Twitter to hear the latest from United Response as we campaign on employment.