People with learning difficulties will be helped into work by the Linkage Community Trust thanks to a grant of more than £61,000 from Lincolnshire Freemasons. The £61,236 grant will allow the Trust, in partnership with the University of Lincoln, to fund a special project aimed at supporting people with Learning Disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Condition to get into work.
This project is a joint initiative between Linkage Community Trust, The University of Lincoln’s Autism Research Innovation Centre, and partners from the statutory and voluntary sectors. It will create an online support tool that, over the next few years, is expected to help hundreds of users develop Individualised Career Action Plans.
Linkage has for the past 40 years been committed to supporting individuals with a learning disability and or autism to develop their independence. Although much progress has been made in many areas such as social integration, independent living and education, access to employment remains a huge challenge. Linkage sees employment as a key to independence and a major contributor to health and well-being.
Rex Richardson, Director of Care Services at Linkage said: “Getting people with autism and/or learning disabilities into employment can be complex and challenging. To do it successfully requires a planned and personalised approach, with all partners working together to achieve an identified and shared goal. “
“Research shows that the benefits of employment for people with autism or learning disabilities can be immense, improving independence, well-being, reducing isolation and promoting better mental health – as well as providing many employers with a loyal and productive employee,” he added.
It is estimated that there are around 7,500 individuals with autism in Lincolnshire. Data on employment figures for people with autism in Lincolnshire is limited, but national figures suggest only 15 per cent of adults with an autistic spectrum condition are in full time employment. (Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Needs Assessment).
The Grant from Lincolnshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Mr Richardson said:
“We’re very grateful to Lincolnshire Freemasons for their generous support, which will allow us to help people with learning difficulties get into work. This project is about bringing together organisations who share our commitment with the University of Lincoln to develop individualised career development plans which are comprehensive and efficient, which can identify their strengths and support them and employers in enabling disabled individuals to gain employment and to make an important contribution to the workforce. It’s a disgrace that only around 15 per cent of adults with an autistic spectrum condition are in full time employment.”
Graham Ives, of Lincolnshire Freemasons said:
“We’re very pleased to be able to help the Linkage Community Trust, which is doing outstanding work supporting people with learning disabilities find employment. This not only provides enormous benefits to the job seekers, but also to local employers who obtain loyal and productive employees.