On Learning Disability Week [June 20-26], Jelena Milic from The Cube Disability in Northamptonshire spoke on The Leaders Council Podcast to raise awareness of the lived experiences of people with learning difficulties and how her organisation looks to support them.
Since 2000, The Cube has provided an engaging and modern care provision for adults aged 18 and over, with learning disabilities and autism. One of the ways in which The Cube seeks to help such people is by teaching them valuable life skills such as budget management and helping them into stable employment.
Highlighting the levels of the UK population that have learning disabilities and are unemployed, Milic suggested that by giving these people an opportunity, employers could help plug labour shortfalls and give the individuals an opportunity to contribute more to society.
Milic said on the podcast: “You have to realise that around two-and-a-half per cent of the population have a learning disability. Out of that group, 94 per cent of them do not work. So, there is a workforce there for us. These people have a 100 per cent right to go to work just like anyone else does.
“As employers, we need to start thinking differently and we do need to hire people with learning disabilities. Let them go to work and let them have that opportunity. This Learning Disability Week is a chance for us to really consider that and question why people with learning disabilities aren’t getting the opportunity to work.
“We need to start thinking ‘Why can I not hire that young man with Down syndrome at the local coffee shop?’. We need to get out of the mentality of trying to protect and shield people with learning disabilities because in doing so, we’re depriving them of opportunities. We need to be willing to include people, be equal and employers should want to be putting themselves out there as equality employers.”
Milic went on to explain how The Cube Disability works with local employers to put their service users in appropriate work placements, in order to facilitate sustainable employment opportunities.
“We’ll meet employers and talk about the individual’s qualities. Just like with anyone you have to fit the right job with the right person. In the town of Daventry, we have a young man with Down syndrome who works at McDonald’s and has been there for years, which is wonderful. We’ve also got a young man who we placed at a barber shop in Northamptonshire. He started as a volunteer and they loved him so much that they offered him a job.
“We can talk a lot about inclusion and equality but we need to really consider whether we’re really doing all of that. This week is your opportunity as an employer, as the boss of a company, to really think about that and do something this week. Let’s hire people with learning disabilities and give them that chance.”
Listen to the extended interview with Jelena Milic on The Leaders Council Podcast below.
Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash