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Learning Disabilities and Work: How Charities Can Help


Published: 2012-11-25 : (Rev. 2013-06-13)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Something as simple as getting to work can be a huge hurdle to overcome for a person with learning disabilities.

Main Digest

Sometimes the drudgery of the 9-5 grind makes it easy to forget just how much having a job does for your self-esteem. Being financially independent, able to pay your own way in society as well as afford luxuries such as the latest gadgets, is something many of us take for granted.

United Response - A national charity that supports people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities to take control of their lives. They achieve this in many different ways - from supporting people to live as independently as possible in their own homes to helping them access their community, get training and seek work opportunities. They also campaign with, and on behalf of, the people they support on the issues that affect their lives. United Response believe that people with disabilities are equal participants in society and should have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Ask anyone who has been made redundant or otherwise struggled to find work how they feel and often you'll hear words like "useless", "worthless" or "a burden". For people with learning disabilities, gaining independence through employment can be extremely hard in a job market that discriminates against them, and this can often cause problems for their self-esteem.

We often think that people with disabilities need and want more support. Although this is certainly true in many ways, a large number of people with disabilities often express a desire to have a job and to help put something back into their community. The increased independence that a job can give a person with disabilities has been shown time and again to improve their confidence, life satisfaction and general well being, but getting a job is fraught with difficulties.

Something as simple as getting to work can be a huge hurdle to overcome for a person with learning disabilities. The daily commute is usually one of the most tedious aspects of employment, but independent travel can be extremely difficult for people with disabilities. With careful support and planning, people with learning disabilities can become confident using public transport and getting themselves to work.

Another problem area can be employers not understanding an individual's condition. If they don't understand the nature of the disability, and how it may affect a potential employee's ability to fulfill their job role, then they can be wary of taking someone on. As part of their support, many charities will explain a disability to an employer, and how they can help get the best from a disabled employee. They can also assist an employer in risk assessments for the workplace. This kind of expert advice often helps employers to better understand how they can support someone in a work experience placement or job, which helps both parties benefit.

The road to employment can be difficult and seeking advice from a learning disability charity is a good way to start. Such organizations offer a variety of services to help those with disabilities build up the skills and experience necessary to get that first job -

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