Change that leads to better lives

Blog: Our world of work

Harry Georgiou, youth advisory and coproduction assistant at DFN Project SEARCH, recently teamed up with NDTi's Thomas Henley to create a film which captures young people's experiences of work.

In this blog, Harry reflects on the making of the film, which included young people from our Time to Talk Next Steps programme.

We wanted to make a film that would highlight the importance of people with a learning disability, autistic people and other barriers that may face them going into employment. We also wanted to highlight the positive impact employment can have on their lives and if they’ve not had employment, why not? We also asked about the barriers people face?

The film came about from conversations between DFN Project SEARCH and NDTi and we then looked at ways that we could collaborate. The most important thing to get out of this film was the young people's voices. We wanted to explore the positive or negative experiences they've had of either being in employment or not being in employment, and this was the main focus for the whole project really. We interviewed young people for the film, and those voices are the key to the film. The young people highlighted the barriers they faced and gave their reactions to the recent statistics released by the government.

Only 4.8% of people with a learning disability or autism spectrum conditions known to adult social care are currently in employment and the young people we interviewed want to see this change.

We heard their thoughts on regional adjustments and what companies can do to include them in their workforce when it comes to these adjustments.

This film is co-produced between NDTi and DFN Project SEARCH, who are partners on the Internships Work project alongside the British Association of Supported Employment (BASE).

Harry blog
In the future, I would love for every young person who wants to go to work to have the opportunity to do so through high-quality supported internships. Harry Georgiou, youth advisory and coproduction assistant, DFN Project SEARCH

Back in June and July, we filmed the first part of the film in Leeds during NDTi’s Time to Talk Next Steps meetup. We filmed young people and parents and interviewed them in a relaxed setting. The filming took place, and it was very interesting to hear all the different opinions. One key thing in that stood out in my mind from the film was a parent saying in the film that they never knew anything about personal assistant (PA) support or any benefits. This really stuck in my mind as I saw a parent/carer who wants the best for the young person they support. The parent explains that there are things like career fairs and career advisors, but there doesn’t seem to be a good structure in place for people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

I found it really interesting to hear one of the young people talk about an employer not providing reasonable adjustments once their needs changed. When you start work, sometimes your needs change over time, and companies need to realise this- you've got to support all your staff, whether that’s with mental health, disability or anything else. Support changes over time.

The next part of the project was filmed in in Liverpool, where we interviewed two young people on a DFN Project SEARCH supported internship about their experiences of the programme. They were looking forward to getting a job at the end of it. Once again, when I mentioned the employment figure being only 4.8%, they both seemed shocked and surprised, and talked about how this figure needs to change.

The questions we used for the interviews were co-created by DFN Project SEARCH and NDTi to highlight young people’s experiences and hopes on the subject of work. We made sure that we had feedback from the young people from Time to Talk Next Steps about their thoughts on the questions and the project as a whole. Currently, only 4.8% of people with learning disability or autism spectrum conditions get to go to work. However, a recent MENCAP survey showed that 86% of respondents with a learning disability who did not have a paid job said that they would like one. This is sad but unfortunately not surprising.

We know that when people with learning disabilities or autism get into work, they stay 3.5 times longer, and we know that doing a supported internship gives young people the skills required to go into work.

At DFN Project SEARCH, 70% of our interns get full-time paid employment paid the prevailing wage, which is really good. The partnership that DFN Project SEARCH and NDTi have through the Internships Work project has allowed us to come together and use a combined approach to get some amazing perspectives on employment.

I want to see more supported internships, as we know that they are a proven pathway into work for young people with learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions and other barriers into work, we know this. I want to see employers really get behind Internships Work. The aim of Internships Work is to double the number of supported internships by 2025. I believe this aim can be achieved, and this film is a perfect example of how real people currently feel. These young people want to work. I believe that supported internships and projects like Time to Talk Next Steps and the Youth Advisory Group at DFN Project SEARCH are allowing more voices to be heard and supporting so many amazing young people into work.

In the future, I would love for every young person who wants to go to work to have the opportunity to do so through high-quality supported internships.

Read more about supported internships and Internships Work.

Read our research report for Mencap on work and learning disability.

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