The Engage to Change project worked 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 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.
The project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund in partnership with Welsh Government. The project has now finished and is no longer taking any referrals, but additional funding has been secured from the National Lottery Community Fund and Welsh Government to support the Engage to Change Influencing and Informing phase to take forward the policy, research, and legacy work of the Engage to Change project.
We will continue to work with Welsh Government, DWP, local authorities, health boards, colleges, supported employment agencies and other organisations with the aim of ensuring that supported employment, which includes specialist job coach support, is funded and available across Wales.
The Engage to Change project successfully provided employment support to 1,070 young people with a learning difficulty, learning disability and/or autism over a 7-year period that ended on 31 May 2023. As mentioned previously, the project is no longer accepting referrals. Please check out our useful information section of our website to see if there are any providers who may be able to offer guidance or support: Useful information
Learning Disability Wales is leading a consortium of organisations that delivered the Engage to Change project. This included supported employment agencies ELITE and Agoriad Cyf, the self-advocacy group All Wales People First, and the National Centre for Mental Health at Cardiff University. The project is also working in collaboration with the supported internship programme DFN Project SEARCH. See more information on each partner below:
As lead partner LDW coordinates Engage to Change, utilising our experience of project leadership throughout the whole of Wales and ensuring that all finances and reporting are in line with what is required. We interact with all partners through the steering group and individual meetings. LDW plays a key role in influencing policy change and also a significant role in information, communication and dissemination of project findings. LDW engages with Welsh Government and other key stakeholders from across Wales. We share project stories, good practice and lessons through the project website and social media The project information hub is maintained and delivered by LDW. During Year 6 LDW will employ the Lead Ambassador and will engage young people who have benefited from the project to raise awareness and ensure that young people with a learning disability and/or autism are viewed as part of our workforce in Wales.
As an end-to-end delivery partner operating throughout South, East and West Wales, ELITE are
responsible for ensuring that young people access placements and real employment. They interact with young people, parents/carers, employers and referral sources to ensure outcomes are met.
They interact with all partners through the steering group and at a delivery level and ensure that information is collected in order to ensure that project legacy is achieved.
As an end-to-end delivery partner operating throughout North East, North West and Mid Wales, Agoriad are responsible for ensuring that young people access placements and real employment. They interact with young people, parents/carers, employers and referral sources to ensure outcomes are met. They interact with all partners through the steering group and at a delivery level and ensure that information is collected in order to ensure that project legacy is achieved.
As advisory and consultation partner for the first five years, AWPF ensured that people with a learning disability had input into the project. They played a key role in the consultation activity with people with a learning disability and/or autism that substantially informed the development of the project plan. As Engage to Change progressed they advised and facilitated evaluation specifically with young people with a learning disability and/or autism and advised the project steering group through their All-Wales National Council. The ambassadors were employed by AWPF acted as role models in order to raise public awareness and ensure that young people with a learning disability and/or autism are viewed as part of our workforce in Wales. During year six, AWPF will work in collaboration with Engage to Change partners. They will hold evaluation forum events and a participant feedback event, that will inform the project evaluation.
As a consultation and evaluation partner the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) at Cardiff University ensures that all data needed for reporting purposes and to influence policy change is collected ethically and efficiently. They produce reports in relation to the current policy climate and ensure that the project legacy far exceeds expectations. They play a key role in ensuring this longer term ambition is closer to achievement in year 6 than it is in year 1.