Press Release – ‘Engage to Change’ leads the way in Wales to a brighter future in employment for people with a learning disability and/or autism
29th May 2023
Engage to Change, a project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund in partnership with Welsh Government, has been running for 7 years and has to date secured 420 paid roles for young people aged 16 – 25 with learning disabilities and/or autism.
Using a person-centred one-to-one approach, Engage to Change has helped 1,294 young people overcome barriers to employment through developing transferable skills, gaining unpaid work experience and securing paid supported employment. During the project, participants have secured a number of different roles ranging from working on a farm with 16,000 chickens to dealing with pharmacy duties in a hospital and working in a wood store recycling and upcycling wood.
A recently published research paper by the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University showed that of the participants who received job coach support and a supported employment model, 370 found paid employment, representing a 34.58% employment rate based on referrals. Significant employment opportunities such as paid placements lasting up to 6 months and supported internships lasting 9 months were found to be particularly effective in increasing employment rates, achieving an employment rate of 37% when used together. DFN Project SEARCH supported internships and achieved an employment rate of 38%. Alternative supported internships started late in the project and, when included, all internships yielded an employment rate of 26%. The research also found that age and previous work experience were associated with higher employment rates across all participants.
Angela Kenvyn, Project Manager, said “Engage to Change has demonstrated the success of a person-centred approach in supporting young people with learning disabilities and/or autism to overcome barriers to employment. Our research shows the value of tailored transition planning and highlights the importance of investing in supported employment and internship approaches that incorporate preparation for the workplace and specialist job coach support. Our goal is for these strategies to be funded and implemented by Welsh Government for the benefit of others who face barriers in Wales.”
One of the participants who really thrived in her role because of the project was Lliwen Roberts who said “Thanks to the Engage to Change project, I have gained a variety of essential skills and experience, and I’m now thriving in my job at Dderwen egg farm. I am grateful for the one-to-one support from my mentor, which helped me overcome the barriers I faced, especially when I was starting out. I now have the independence and enjoyment that comes with being a part of the workforce, and I’m proud to be a success story for the project.”
John Rose, Wales Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I’m delighted to see the impacts that the Engage to Change programme has achieved over the last seven years in supporting young people with learning disabilities to address barriers to employment. Money from Dormant Assets continues to support communities in Wales, and The National Lottery Community Fund has an important role in distributing this on behalf of Welsh Government.”
Notes to editors
The Engage to Change project has been working across Wales to support young people aged 16-25 who have a learning difficulty, learning disability and/or autism to achieve their full potential. Using a person-centred approach, Engage to Change has worked closely with young people, their parents/carers and employers to:
- overcome barriers to employment
- develop transferable skills
- offer unpaid work experience
- provide paid supported employment
- find volunteering opportunities
- offer access to supported internships, traineeships, and apprenticeships.
Engage to Change: celebrating the success event – There will be a special celebration event at the pierhead building in Cardiff Bay this September, 12th. The event will be sponsored by Vaughan Gething, MS and Minister for Economy in Wales and also include speakers such as Hefin David MS, John Rose, OBE Wales Director of the National Lottery Community Fund, Angela Kenvyn, E2C Project Manager and many others from across the project.
Link to the celebratory event in Cardiff Bay here: https://www.ldw.org.uk/event/engage-to-change-sharing-theresults/?fbclid=IwAR1A1uObI7_98l5Q1jpFsHEuwqm5c286gLCN2ZXdQdPEfWTdBppCer2koic
Freelance Communications Consultant for Engage 2 Change