Supporting disabled people into work

A project aiming to remove barriers to employment experienced by disabled people has secured a Big Lottery Fund award of almost £700,000. Working directly with 100 Scottish employers, the Scottish Union of Supported Employment (SUSE) will provide workshops and seminars to assist employers to identify more opportunities for disabled people in their workplaces.

SUSE is one of 13 organisations today sharing in over £9 million from our Investing in Communities programme.

Lindsay Scott, Superviser at the RNIB cafe
Lindsay Scott, Superviser at the RNIB cafe

One person who has faced many obstacles on her road to employment is 33 year old Lindsay Scott from Edinburgh. Lindsay says: “I’ve had been partially sighted all of my life which I found really hard but it wasn’t until I was 21 that I was actually registered with a visual impairment. Over the years my confidence was knocked as I tried different jobs, none of which worked out. When I left school I went to college to do hairdressing but was told that I stood too close to the clients so that left me feeling really low. I also tried working in a fast food restaurant but I struggled when operating the computerised tills so that didn’t work out either.”

The turning point for Lindsay came when she was referred to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) through her local job centre. She says: “I had been out of work for three or four years at that point having had my daughter so I was very anxious about going back into employment. Luckily I saw a disability adviser who put me in touch with the Shaw Trust which is run through RNIB. From there I secured a six month placement in their cafe.”

With adjustments such as a bigger till, print and special chopping board Lindsay soon found herself excelling. She then went on to run the cafe in Falkirk for a year where she also trained up other people. Now a permanent cafe supervisor with RNIB Lindsay, says: “This Big Lottery Fund award is great news for disabled people as it will make employers more aware of the adjustments that they can put in place to help people like me find and stay in employment. I can do the job just as well as someone with full eyesight, I just need a few adjustments. Employers who don’t give disabled people a chance run the risk of letting good people slip through their fingers.”  You can hear Lindsay’s story in her own words in this short film:

Lindsay speaking about her own experiences in the workplace
Lindsay speaking about her own experiences in the workplace

Over the next four years the project run by SUSE will promote equality and change attitudes within the workplace, as well as creating career development opportunities for disabled people. It will begin work in Ayrshire, Edinburgh and the Lothians before being rolled out to the Scottish Borders and Highlands.

Welcoming the £694,969 award Kate Storrow, SUSE Chair, said: “We are delighted to receive this Big Lottery Fund award to support the development of a new service targeted at employers and employer organisations.  SUSE and its members know that in order to ensure the numbers of disabled people who enter the labour market in Scotland increases, work with employers and employer’s organisations is vital.  We aim to raise awareness of the support available from local organisations to support the needs of disabled people in the workforce and to support our members to provide the practical advice, help and support to employers and their organisations in order to make a real difference in the lives of disabled people in Scotland.

Maureen McGinn Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair said: “I am delighted that the Big Lottery Fund is supporting this valuable project which has the potential to make a significant difference to disabled people in Scotland. By focussing on the skills of people like Lindsay rather than their disability, this project promises to bring real change for those disabled people looking for career development opportunities.”

Find out which other groups are celebrating Investing in Communities grants today here.

We are still accepting applications to our Investing in Communities programme.  If you have a project idea you can email our Big Advice Team to discuss it further.

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