A Croydon Council team has won a national innovation award for leading initiatives to get more local people with disabilities into fulfilling jobs.
The supported employment team in the council’s Gateway division won the innovation award at last night’s BASE Practitioners awards ceremony, which recognises the country’s best schemes that boost disabled jobseekers’ prospects.
Croydon Council’s supported employment team’s recent initiatives have included:
• The annual Reverse Jobs Fair, where dozens of employers looking to fill vacancies visit prospective employees with disabilities
• The council’s Supported Self-Employment Academy, which has helped around 15 entrepreneurs develop their ideas for a new business
• All About Me, a programme giving jobseekers with disabilities wanting a career in retail a week’s work experience as sales assistants in the Whitgift shopping centre
• #Iamanartist, an event where creative people with disabilities audition for work in the arts, including singers, dancers, musicians and photographers.
To provide the right help for local jobseekers with disabilities, the supported employment team provides a holistic, person-centred approach and works with partners including the mental health charity Mind, specialist recruitment company Status Employment, council colleagues and private companies. The council has helped local jobseekers into work ranging from retail jobs and lifestyle coaching to developing educational children’s toys.
The British Association of Supported Employment awards recognise and celebrate outstanding practice in the field of supported employment across the United Kingdom, and Croydon’s award was presented to team manager Emma Shepherd on Tuesday in Milton Keynes.
Ms Shepherd, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition that means her joints are hypermobile, said: “We were surprised and honoured to get this award, but it does reflect how the team works with a whole range of groups and organisations to get local people with disabilities the support they need into meaningful employment.”
“This team’s innovative work for Croydon jobseekers with disabilities is invaluable because it boosts their personal confidence and financial resilience, so this national recognition is well-deserved.”
Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services