Expert event (25 November) - work and learning disa... - Mencap


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Expert event (25 November) - work and learning disability

Sarah_Mencap profile image

Paul Winter is here all week to answer your questions about work and employment. Paul works for Mencap and is an Employer Relationship Manager in our Lifestyles & Work team.

This topic is now closed, but please do read Paul's amazing posts for advice and information about work and learning disability.

Please feel free to post a question for Paul, or share a story about people with a learning disability and work.

Many thanks


P.S - Here is the info that Paul refers to in his post below about how the programmes work.

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31 Replies

Hello everyone,

My names Paul Winter and I’ve worked for Mencap for the last 10 years, my role at Mencap is as an Employer Relationship Manager in our Lifestyles and Work department.

I have a huge passion for delivering the best quality employment support we can and improving the world of employment for people with a disability.

I work with lots of employers and Mencap teams to create good work opportunities for people with leaning disability, learning difficulty and autism.

The teams I support deliver Employment and education programmes across England. We currently have 4 programmes of employment support called Three ships and Employ Me.

Our Three ships are 1.Supported Internships, 2.Traineeships and 3.Apprenticeships.

These are all focused on getting into the work place and ultimately into work.

Please see some information below how the programmes work.

If you interested in looking at pathways to employment ? Or questions on how to access employment services from your local authority or job centre I can hopefully help and point you in the right direction.

Many Thanks


Hi Paul you refer in your reply see information below, which does not appear to be there. Could you post a link or include please. I have been involved in the NHS Workforce Development as a parent carer, in our area, part of which is around getting those with LD and/or ASD gain employment or work experience so any info is welcome

Sarah_Mencap profile image
Sarah_MencapAdministrator in reply to NorthernDad

Hello NorthernDad

Sorry - my mistake. I will post it in the original post at the top.



Thanks hopefully you can see the Mencap routeways. Thats great news about your invovlement in the NHS workforce the roles with NHS are so good for people with LD.

Happy to have a chat anytime! i can send you my contacts?

My 25 year old daughter with mild learning difficulties and autism is interested in work placement or training in Hillingdon or Harrow area.

Hi Teresa,

thanks for getting in touch ive foudn the below if these are helpful?

It does depend on which LA you live in as to what services are on offer.

Or you also have the DWP/Job centre which will also run some employment programmes for poeple 25+




Hello, my 27 year old son has Asperger's Syndome, has passed his English and maths GCSE and has a clean current drivers licence, however so far he has been unable to find any employment. Are you able to send me any information on Traineeships and any information on companies you have worked with who are willing to employ people with Aspergers.

Many thanks.

Hi thanks so much for you message.

If your able to let me know which where you are based ?

You can message this directly tho rather thank on the board.

I can have a look and see what local services are available ?

What was it your son was intrested in doing for work?



Hi Paul,

Thank you for your reply. We live 10 miles north of Nottingham, 5 miles south of Mansfield. My son wanted a driving job or work within a supermarket, as that is what he has experience in, though he hasn’t handled cash, just shelf checking and emptying warehouse cages. He was also interested in hairdressing having completed his level 1 in July, but was told he couldn’t proceed to level 2 because of his dexterity, which is something I have never been aware with him.

Many thanks.

Ive found the below for I work in Nottinhamshire ?

Our Employment Training Hub can offer support to adults with a learning disability, autism or Asperger’s who want to get ready for paid employment.


If you live in Nottinghamshire and have a learning disability or Asperger's our i-work team can offer you support to get a job.

The i-work team can:

look at your skills, interests and qualifications

find jobs that you might like to do

explain what will happen with benefits if you get paid work

give you the opportunity to try out jobs to see if you like them

carry on giving you support when you find a job to help you stay there.

Contact i-work on 0115 9632638. You can contact us yourself or ask someone else to do it for you.

Hello Paul

2 questions from me:

Is there a list of employers that are more open minded? Most people don’t seem to see past the LD. There is loads that my daughter could do but she doesn't seem to get the chance.

Probably a silly question but what counts as a reasonable adjustment? How big can the adjustment be?


Hi Grace

Nice to hear from you

The companies that use disability confident "should" be more inclusive, the DWP hold a list of all employers who have signed up.

Hope this helps?

Some info on resonable adjustment below : adjustments can take many forms happy to dicuss with you if helpful ?

Kind Regards

Sarah_Mencap profile image
Sarah_MencapAdministrator in reply to Paul_Mencap

This list of (hopefully) more inclusive employers is great. I had no idea it existed. thanks Paul

Hello Paul. I’m sure there are going to be a lot of questions on here about this, but my question is about how to look for employment, or a work placement? My brother would love paid employment, but there doesn’t seem to be much out there (he has worked for short periods in the past). Is there an age limit on work placements (he's 46). He lives near Cambridge. THanks

Paul_Mencap profile image
Paul_Mencap in reply to jow2319

Ive found the below on Cambridge website for supported employment


Local job vacancies for young people aged 16 - 19 are advertised on Youthoria. Vacancies for adults are advertised on Universal Job Match on the GOV UK website and on a range of local and national job seeking sites.

If you are over 18 and have a disability, your local Jobcentre Plus can offer advice and information on finding a job and the range of programmes and funding that may be available.

An Access to Work grant can pay for practical support if you have a disability, health or mental health condition to help you start working, stay in work or start a business.

Work Choice is a voluntary programme that helps disabled people to find, get and keep a job. The type of support you can get depends on your needs for example training and developing skills, building confidence and interview skills.

More information on sources of support and advice to help young disabled people find and stay in work is available on GOV UK.

This is the councils we page for employment support

Sorry just seen the age on this, sorry these were young people offers.

I cant seem to find any service for 25+

i will have a ring around in the morning see if i can find anyone!

Morning all,

I will be around all week to help with any employment related questions.

First of all I wanted to point everyone in the direction of the local offer as i think its really helpful as a first point of call when looking to see what’s available.

Local Offer

Under the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) code of practice, which can be found here, there is a statutory duty on local authorities to develop and publish a Local Offer setting out the support they expect to be available for local children and young people with SEND aged 0-25.

Visit your local authority website to find what is available in your area.

GOV.UK had put on some



Hi Paul. What is Access to Work and is it still about? Does it apply to people with an LD?

Paul_Mencap profile image
Paul_Mencap in reply to Freddy44

Hi Freddy

Yes access to work (ATW or A2W) is till around !

but it can be hard to find unless you know where to look.

Some info on the .Gov website.

It can pay for many things tho. Typically we at Mencap use if for 1:1 job coaching either on one of our ships or when someone goes into a job ( this has to be paid work to be eligible tho ) but also good for taxi's to and from work.

Found this as well on Mencap website

What is the Access to Work grant?

The Access to Work grant is money to help you do your job if you have a disability or a health condition.

It can pay for practical support to help you start work, stay in work, or to move into self-employment if you are starting a business.

There is no set amount for an Access to Work grant. The amount of money you get depends on your situation.

The money can pay for things like:

special equipment

taxi journeys to work if you can’t use public transport

a support worker or job coach to help you at work

disability awareness training for your colleagues

a communicator at job interviews.

The money you get from Access to Work doesn’t have to be paid back and will not affect your other benefits.

Since 1 of April 2019, Access to Work will give a maximum of £59,200 support a year. This maximum amount is changed every April, and you can check it here.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

We've compiled some useful answers to come of your frequently asked questions around the Access to Work grant.

Thanks hope this helps :)

Hi Paul. I am not sure if this is the right sort of question but I have son with LD (he's 10), and I would like to return to work if possible at some point. Do you support parents to find work, or just people with a learning disability? I am worried about how paid work will impact my benefits but I would really like to give it a go. Thank you

Thanks for you question, no sorry all our services are aimed at People with LD

Have you heard of a BOC tho? ( better-Off-Calculation )

This is great when planning how many hours to work as you can check all benefits if you get any? in one place. ( you can do one yourself on the link below )

The job center/DWP can also usually offer these. It gives you an idea of how many hours to work where you would be better off financially.

DWP also run services to help parents get back into work? Usually via a work coach or a programme like Health and work progamme, where you can get 1:1 coaching and advice on work and also sometimes help applying and updating you CV

Let me know if this helps ? If you need anything more let me know.



Hi Everyone

Today I thought it would be good to have a look at supported internships.

They are becoming the most popular programme for younger people and are defiantly getting a bit of hype.

I’ve cheated a bit and pulled down some resource online for these as to be honest they cover the programme and details more holistically.

But at its centre the Support internship is an alternate to college 1-year programme for people with ECHP plan and under 24 years of age.

The difference with this programme vs just another year in college is that the programme is focused and based in an employment setting not a classroom. So that practical skills, experiences, and networking can be undertaken in a work based setting which if done right is a really great experience of the real world of work. Also throughout the year the programme is focused on getting a job even while undertaking your placement hours.

Ive found the below from NDTI which seems to have some great info on Supported interns but also NDTI as a great resources of information and a great site to share as well.

What is a Supported Internship?

Supported internships are a structured study programme based primarily at an employer. They enable young people aged 16-24 with a statement of SEN, or an Education, Health and Care plan to achieve sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace. Supported internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of six months. Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, and English and maths.

and also

Also some great specific information from Gov.

What is a supported internship? From August 2013, all young people in full or part-time education aged 16 to 19 (16 to 24 where the student has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan) have been expected to follow a study programme3 - a coherent, personalised learning programme that offers breadth, depth and progression. A supported internship is one type of study programme specifically aimed at young people aged 16 to 24 who have a statement of special educational4 needs or an EHC plan, who want to move into employment and need extra support to do so. All young people should be helped to develop the skills and experience, and achieve the qualifications they need to succeed in their careers. The overwhelming majority of young people with SEN are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and support. All professionals working with them should share that presumption. Colleges that offer courses which are designed to provide pathways to employment should have a clear focus on preparing students with SEN for work. This includes identifying the skills that employers value, and helping young people to develop them. Supported internships are structured study programmes based primarily at an employer. They are intended to enable young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities to achieve sustainable, paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work through learning in the workplace. Internships normally last for a year and include unpaid work placements of at least six months. Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Students complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if suitable, and English and maths to an appropriate level.

Sarah_Mencap profile image

Hi Paul. Have you seen the wonderful post from Sally426 her experiences of finding work?



Hello Paul. What is the difference between a work placement, an apprenticeship, and an internship. Thank you. Adam

Paul_Mencap profile image
Paul_Mencap in reply to Adam1975

Hi Adam

Nice to hear from you and great questions

They are all similar but have major differences and many people mix up the terms and names.

I will try to summarise each one below

•Work placement – can any length of time and has to be unpaid. I always like to see a work placement agreed with hours & days which make it clear for both parties. And ALWAYS with an end date. Work placements need to end at some point otherwise employers can find themselves in hot water with regards to unpaid staff teams etc which would be seen as volunteering roles which are completely different again.

•Internship – can also apply to diffident length unpaid work placements. We have Traineeships which are around 100 hours of unpaid work placements & Supported Internships which are around 300 hours of unpaid work placements. Both again very different to each other but to make it an internship some sort of education needs to happen so more formal learning alongside the work exp. Maths & English for example but also an overall course that someone is working towards.

•Apprenticeship is much more like a real job where you receive a salary for your working hours. You also will be doing some training while working. You also have 20% of the time to train and these hours also get paid. Apprenticeships vary in length between one and six years dependant on which type of role and in what industry you are in.

Most of your time will be at work with an employer but you also meet with a training provider who delivers your education.

Hi everyone

We had some questions on access to work so thought i would share some content on this today.

What is Access to Work?

Access to Work (AtW) is a government programme aimed at supporting disabled people to take up or remain in work. Access to Work is a discretionary grant scheme that provides personalised support to disabled people who are:

•in paid employment




•supported interns

•doing self-directed work experience

•on Jobcentre plus promoted work trials

•going to a job interview

You can also apply if you have:

•a job offer letter

•a job start date

•a letter confirming your interview

Who can get help?

You can get help if you:

•are disabled, have a mental health condition or have a long-term health condition that impacts your ability to work;

• aged 16 or over;

• Live in England, Scotland or Wales - there’s a different system in Northern Ireland

‘Disabled’ has the same meaning as in the Equality Act 2010.

What help is available?

Access to Work support covers a wide range of interventions beyond ‘reasonable adjustments’ associated with overcoming work-related barriers resulting from disability.

The support package is agreed based on individual need.

Examples of the kind of help available through Access to Work are:

•A communicator, advocate or BSL interpreter for a job interview, if you’re D/deaf or have communication difficulties

•A support worker, such as a reader for somebody with a visual impairment; communicator for a D/deaf person; a specialist job coach for a person with a learning difficulty; or a helper for personal care needs at work

•Specialist equipment (or alterations to existing equipment) to suit your particular need.

•Help towards the additional costs of taxi fares if you cannot use public transport to get to work

•Young people who start a work placement with an employer as part of the Department for Education supported internship programme or a traineeship will be able to apply for Access to Work support for the time of their work placement only.

Access to Work will fund additional travel, job coach and other support, including costs of equipment if appropriate, and promote the smooth transition into paid employment.

Hope that's helpful :)


Sarah_Mencap profile image

Quick reminder that this is the last day of the working event. There is still time to post a quick question for Paul. Thanks, Sarah

Happy Friday everyone

So this will be my last post for the week, and i just to say a really big thank you to everyone for all the questions and engagement. I‘ve had a such a great week talking to you all about all things employment it really is my favourite thing to do!


Sorry I didn’t post yesterday I was stuck on the M25 which ended up being closed for hours on my way home from a meeting.

I really wasn’t sure how to end the week, but feel it’s important to look at the Work and Health programme which is the current main offer for employment support from the DWP/JCP.

Work and Health Programme

The Work and Health Programme is an employment support programme which was launched in North West England and Wales in November 2017.

The programme was rolled out across the rest of England during early 2018. It provides employment support for people with disabilities and long-term unemployed people.

The Programme provides support to help people find and keep a job. It is available, on a voluntary basis, to those with health conditions or disabilities, and to various groups of vulnerable people.

It also provides support to those who have been unemployed for over two years, and it will be compulsory for this group.

The Work and Health Programme will replace the Work Programme and Work Choice schemes.

Service Providers

It is run by five service providers across six regions in England and Wales.

The successful providers were:

•Shaw Trust (Central England and Home Counties)

•Reed in Partnership (North East)

•Ingeus (North West)

•Pluss (Southern)

•Remploy (Wales)


London and Greater Manchester have been given funding under devolution deals and will select their own providers.

In Manchester the programme will be called the Working Well and will launch at the end of January 2018. InWork GM have been appointed to deliver the programme.

The Work and Health Programme launched in London in Spring 2018.

•Shaw Trust (West London)

•Ingeus (Central London)

•Maximus (East London)

•Reed in Partnership (South London)

Funding for employment programmes in Scotland has also been devolved.

Work, Health and Disability White Paper

The Government published its White Paper, Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability in November 2017. The White Paper sets out the Government’s strategy for reform over the next ten years with the intention of increasing the number of people in work by a million by 2027.


Paul :)

Sarah_Mencap profile image

Many thanks to everyone who has joined in, or read, this conversation. Also a huge thank you to Paul for his wonderful posts and advice.

This topic is now closed.

If you want to post more working and employment (or anything else) please just write a new post -

We will have some more expert events in 2020.

Bye for now.


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