Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. The charity provides support, information and advice to more than 250,000 disabled people and their families every year and runs services such as employment programmes for young disabled people.
Scope was founded in 1952 under a different name ‘The Spastics Society’. The organisation was set up by three parents of children with cerebral palsy as no one wanted to educate their children. Attitudes changed over time as the word ‘spastic’ became a term of abuse. In 1994 the name changed to Scope.
Scope’s Future Ambitions supports 16 to 25-year-olds with a disability. The service involves providing one-to-one support with the aim of finding meaningful, paid work.
The programme gave me flexible and tailored employment support and helped me get a job working for Red Brick Road, an advertising agency based in Clerkenwell.
I interviewed Guy Chaudoir, Service Manager of Scope Future Ambitions programme about his work.
Chris Cooper (CC): What do young people with special needs get out of Scope’s Future Ambitions programme?
Guy Chaudoir (GC): The aim of the Future Ambitions service to is support our customers, who have a variety of disabilities, into paid employment. But customers also tell us that the service has made them feel much more confident about themselves, applying for positions and work in general. We aim to ensure that each customer has a clear action plan so they know what they need to do and how to achieve it.
CC: How do you prepare them for work?
GC: Each customer joining the service has an action plan, looking at what support they will need to find employment. We tailor our support regarding this, so it could be a customer attending one of our employability training days, which cover a variety of topics including, how to make a good first impression, communication skills, using social media to find a job, money management or interview skills. We also offer online training, which customers can do in their own time or with the support from their advisor.
CC: Young people with learning difficulties in education are often concerned about whether they can work. How do you go about convincing them that they can?
GC: We are a voluntary service, so we hope that everyone who comes to us wants to find work, but we understand that people can be unsure, as the movement from education to employment is a big one. We support customers so they understand what the world of work is like, opportunities that are available to them and how we can support them to reach their employment goals.
CC: How do you show them the value of employment?
GC: We offer every customer a Better Off Calculation. This shows them how working will effect their personal finances, what in work benefits they will be entitled to and also how they can budget for being in work. We also believe that work has other values such as developing new skills, increasing your social network and the value of contributing to society.
CC: With concerns of disability discrimination in the workplace and fears of benefit cuts how would you ensure disabled people get the right employment opportunities that fit their needs and the needs of the employer?
GC: We work closely with employers to ensure they understand the needs of our customers. We are keen for more employers to understand the needs of disabled people in work. Currently over 3.7 million disabled people are in employment, which is a rise of 5.4% but the gap between disabled people’s employment rate and the rest of the population has remained largely static for over a decade – now standing at 31.3 per cent. So this is why services like this are so important.
CC: How many people enter Scope’s Future Ambitions programme and are successful through the programme?
GC: Since the service started in September 2015 we have worked with nearly one hundred young people, so far 33% of them have found paid employment and many more have started voluntary work and work experience to help them develop skills and experience. And we are continuing to work with young people to find the right jobs for them.
CC: How do young people get referred onto the programme?
GC: Young people can be referred by local councils, other charities and support organisations, Job centre plus, NHS professionals, schools and colleges and they can also self-refer using an easy form on our website or by giving us a call.
CC: What employers, if any, does Scope works with, and what sort of jobs to young people with disabilities end up doing?
GC: We work with several employers, including media agencies, retail stores, cafés, libraries and train stations. They have started several different roles including Lab Aide, Travel Ambassador, Kitchen Porter, Facilities Apprentice, Finance assistant and Sales Assistant.
I feel lucky to have taken part in Future Ambitions. Scope helped me go over my CV and ensured that I would be ready for employment. Scope provided me with many options for work, such as Channel 4, Prince’s Trust and MediaCom.
These gave me experience and I was interested in them but I didn’t get the chance to join them. Scope helped me organise my paid work at Red Brick Road and keep my benefits. I was supported buy Scope to buy work clothes and supported in the interview when Red Brick Road first took me on.
This is why I have started an employability campaign, not just because I have managed to get a job myself but because I have strong concerns for friends who are disabled and the wider community.
I recommend the Future Ambitions programme to every disabled young person in the community. If you are interested in looking for work call 020 7619 7346 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.