Disabled Entrepreneurs Smash Targets

Disabled people smash self-employment project targets with over 80 new businesses and over 70% still trading 12 months later. I’ve been quiet for several weeks bringing our Work for Yourself project to a close .  This is what we achieved :

A scheme that helps people with long-term health conditions or disabilities get back into work has been hailed a huge success after over 80 new businesses were set up over the last three years.

The specialist ‘Work for Yourself’ programme exceeded all its targets and supported many people to happier and more fulfilled lives.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Bolsover District and Chesterfield Borough Councils, the project has helped many businesses to become established and seen a 70% sustainability rate over the last 12-months.

Project-lead Penny Melville-Brown of Disability Dynamics said, “We celebrated the enthusiasm and achievements of these newly self-employed people earlier in June: it was an evening of laughter and even some tears as people talked about how the project had been ‘life changing’.”

Freelance writer Leonie Martin described how she has already had three books published alongside articles in local and specialist media despite her multiple sclerosis.

Noreen Maynard gave a demonstration of the Emotional Freedom Technique therapy she offers and Trevor Johnson was hugely enthusiastic about the ‘spider web’ climbing frame he had constructed with his recycled safety nets.

Working can still be a struggle with a health condition but Davina Bates continues with her knitting even when she has to stay in bed and her ‘reborn dolls’ are selling well. Overall, her sales are already four times her original forecast.  Award-winning David Harding is pursuing new contracts and will be featured in the next series of the BBC’s ‘Saints and Scroungers’ due for broadcast in October.

Penny added, “The pictures of the event and products such as Estelle Winfield’s wedding novelties were all taken by Catherine Foster who is setting herself up as a photographer.  One of the big successes for us is that quite a few of the new business owners are now thinking about taking on others as their ventures grow – their versatility, determination and creativity is just remarkable.”

The new businesses have resulted in many new full and part-time jobs and are increasingly contributing to the local economy. Although some of the project’s participants decided that self-employment wasn’t for them, nearly 50 have gone on to get jobs or moved in to training.

Bolsover District Council’s Leader, Councillor Ann Syrett said, “We were very proud to host the celebration and are delighted so many people have benefitted from the scheme. We have been leaders in offering this alternative work opportunity and it has paid real dividends for our communities.

“For the BBC to repeatedly showcase our local successes demonstrates what a success the project has been and that the demand for Work for Yourself-type support is growing across the country.”

Councillor John Burrows, Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said: “Having a disability or long term health problem should not prevent people from having the opportunity of a fulfilling and productive career.

“The Work For Yourself programme has helped several Chesterfield residents develop the confidence and skills needed to succeed in running their own business.”

“We are pleased to have been part of this partnership project which, as the case studies show, has changed the lives of the people taking part.”

Amongst 326 English local authority areas, Bolsover district has the fourth highest level of disabled people and Chesterfield Borough is not far behind, and both areas fall below the national level of self-employed disabled people, this project has made a strong contribution to improving their prospects.

You can read more about other businesses helped by the programme at www.businessability.co.uk.

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

WFY team - new entrepreneurs with their advisers

Work for Yourself team – new entrepreneurs with their advisers

Voluntary work threatened by benefit sanctions.

Did you know? Contractors funded to run the Government’s compulsory community work seem to be passing the buck to volunteer organisations.

When unemployed people complete two years on the Work Programme without getting back to employment, they are put on to the Government’s Help to Work programme that includes mandatory community work: they will have their benefits stopped if they don’t do the work. Various contractors are being funded to provide the training and arrange the community work. But it seems that some are trying to use the voluntary sector to run those work placements – without passing on any of the funding.
This raises a key principle: voluntary work is exactly what it says on the tin. Being required to work at the risk of social security benefits is quite different. Is it ethical for voluntary organisations to be required to report “volunteers” who don’t show up?
Equally important is the quality and effectiveness of community work. By definition, all of these people will have been out of work for at least 2 years and often much longer. They have not been able to get jobs despite the support of Work Programme professionals so community work is likely to require even more effort and supervision to prepare them to succeed on the job market. Such support takes time, skill and experience so it’s not without cost. And this doesn’t even take in to account that a sizeable proportion of the community workers are likely to have additional needs due to health conditions/disabilities. It seems inescapable that either those contracted to manage the community work need to provide this support or they need to pass on the right proportion of their funding to whoever takes on the community workers. Already, in some areas, voluntary sector organisations are rejecting involvement in community work because of the ethics and because they don’t have the resources to fulfil the contractors’ responsibilities. Perhaps this policy is at risk of foundering because the detail of delivery hasn’t yet been fully worked out?

140709 - Apple tree

uquet of the week. Apple tree

I have just celebrated 30 years in the same house. Built in about 1880, it still has lots of original Victorian features but has also evolved over the years: new rooms, garden landscaping and interior decorating. Here’s a picture of one of the apple trees that has survived from the orchard on which the house was built – It must have been planted in the mid 1800s and still produces wonderful Cox’s Pippins for tarte Tatin.

Yours long-termly!

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000