Changes to the benefits system mean some people with a learning disability now have to find work. Press reporter David Miller looks at a Batley support group which need employers to lend a hand
MORE than 40 people have been helped in the last 12 months thanks to the REAL Employment Agency.
Standing for Realistic Employment for Adults with Learning Disabilities, it is based at the Batley Resource Centre on Commercial Street.
Successes include Claire, 27, of Heckmondwike, who was recently made employee of the month at McDonald’s.
Four others are working at the Oxfam warehouse on Grange Road in Batley, helping with an online auction site.
They take pictures of clothes they have steamed and hung on mannequins for Oxfam’s website.
Meanwhile, Amanda, 23, of Dewsbury (pictured here), has turned a temporary Christmas job at Asda into a full-time permanent role.
She went through a tough selection process that included team exercises with other applicants.
Benefit changes mean some people with a learning disability are being put on jobseekers’ allowance or the employment support allowance.
This includes people with autism or Down’s Syndrome who are assessed as being well enough for work.
Some may not have had a job before, so lack the career history or skills companies look for when recruiting.
REAL, founded in 1992, helps with job clubs, CV writing, interview preparation and matching people with employers.
They want to hear from firms who can offer volunteering, work experience or paid work.
Companies get practical help in taking someone on, plus possible financial aid through the job centre.
REAL’s aim is not just about finding jobs. It’s also to change the perception of what people with a learning disability can do.
Employment advisor Jean Robertshaw said: “Our service is about improving people’s life chances and Claire is a perfect example.
“She’s made a huge impression at McDonald’s and we’re really proud of her, as we are of all our clients.”
Anyone who can help can call the REAL Employment Agency on 01924 326035 or see www.kirklees.gov.uk/REAL.