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Leeds Beckett and Mencap team up for Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week


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Leeds Beckett University is once again teaming up with Mencap to provide two work placements to customers of the charity as part of Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week 2015.

Headingley Campus James Graham Building

Following on from the successful work experience placement of someone with a learning disability supported by Mencap in the Equality and Diversity team last year, the University will welcome Daniel Ratcliffe and Matthew Hurton this November.

Daniel is set to spend the week assisting students in the Faculty of Arts, Environment and Technology with submitting their assessments and offering general administrative support from the Broadcasting Place reception desk. Matthew will be working with the Sport and Active Lifestyles team, helping with admin and reception support, assisting in coaching, setting up sports activities and cheering on students in university sport matches.

The Learning Disabilities Work Experience Week campaign was established by charity Mencap and Inclusive Employers and will this year run from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 November. The aim of the campaign is to give employers first-hand experience of the benefits of working alongside a person with a learning disability, showing them the benefits this could bring to their organisation.

There are around 1.4 million people in the UK with a learning disability, and though eight out of 10 people can work, only two out of 10 actually do. One of the most significant barriers is the lack of opportunities to develop skills in a working environment.  

Leeds Beckett University’s CommUNIty initiative, which promotes the development of sustainable partnerships between voluntary/community organisations and the University, is supporting the Mencap partnership with Leeds Beckett and it is hoped that this can be developed further, leading to regular work placements for people with learning disabilities through the year.

Susan Coan, who leads on Placements and Student Engagement as part of the CommUNIty initiative at Leeds Beckett, commented: “The statistics relating to the number of people with learning disabilities who are in work are shameful. We’re really thrilled that Leeds Beckett University is able to offer two placements this year and are confident that this number will continue to increase.  It has been fantastic to see the enthusiasm from the teams where the placements will happen, and it’s great to know that we will welcome people into warm, supportive environments.  The CommUNIty initiative is going from strength to strength with our involvement in student placements in third sector groups. We also want to open the University up to hosting our community partners here, through events, placements and other collaborations, to cement our place in the community.”

Mark Capper, Head of Employment at Mencap, said: “Just seven per cent of people with a learning disability are in paid work, despite the majority wanting to work and being able to, with the right support. A whole range of barriers exist, from the attitudes of employers, lack of appropriate training and in-work support which means employers consistently overlook this untapped source of labour.

“With the government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap, initiatives such as Learning Disability Work Experience Week provide a great opportunity to help achieve this commitment, and help companies to adopt more inclusive and accessible recruitment policies. People with a learning disability have the same right to work as anyone, and we urge employers to realise the potential and talents of this frequently overlooked group.”


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