Having a job is a given for many adults in the UK: In spring 2023, the employment rate for people aged 16-64 was 75.9%. By contrast, the employment rate amongst adults with a learning disability is much lower: 4.8% in England in 2021-22.
This employment rate has fallen over recent years due to factors like Covid-19, the lack of investment in adult supported employment services, and the lack of access to work in many local services.
Achieve together care homes, one of the UK’s leading learning disability providers of support and accommodation, empowers people it supports so they can reach their full potential. Some choose to achieve this potential by working or volunteering. With Achieve together’s support, securing employment opportunities becomes much easier.
How Employment Can Benefit Adults With Learning Disabilities
Employment isn’t a path that suits all people with learning disabilities. However, if an individual chooses to work or volunteer, employment can help them:
- Improve their quality of life.
- Gain valuable skills.
- Increase their independence.
- Enhance their social networks.
- Contribute to the community.
Achieve together recognises the benefits of paid and voluntary employment for adults with learning disabilities, autism, and complex needs.
Achieve together Helps Residents Secure Work Opportunities
Achieve together has more than 180 supported living homes across England and Wales. These homes support adults with autism, learning disabilities, and associated conditions.
Supported living offers individuals an independent lifestyle where they can still receive help from support workers when needed. Typically, two or three adults share each of Achieve together’s supported living homes. Team members support people with anything from daily tasks, getting to the shops to managing housework and finances and finding employment.
Achieve together support teams do their utmost to secure work and volunteer opportunities for individuals who want to pursue employment. Their efforts involve providing comprehensive guidance and arranging all the necessary support for individuals to enter the workforce.
Achieve together supports individuals throughout England and Wales. These are the employment and volunteering stories of a few people supported in Achieve together’s Portsmouth home. These peoples roles range from helping in a café to providing animal care.
Richard has lived at Achieve together’s Portsmouth home since 2016. He volunteers at Waterfront Garden Centre, helping with woodwork and potting plants. He would like to be in paid employment one day.
Richard enjoys the social aspect of his role and says the position has helped him get better at socialising, a skill that he has used in the community.
As he has mobility issues, Richard receives special equipment to help him do his work. Achieve together explains that this is a prime example of a workplace offering reasonable adjustments. These adjustments are changes an employer makes to minimise or take away a disadvantage relating to a person’s disability.
David has lived at the Achieve together Portsmouth home since 2011. He has a job at Go Create Care, a vocational work-based skills service for adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues, and autism.
David enjoys the hard-working nature of the role, which involves stripping crates and creating projects to sell on Etsy. He also uses his building skills outside of work.
Steven has lived at the Portsmouth-based home since 2019. He experienced a brain tumour that rendered him incapable of walking. Now, he works at the British Heart Foundation and Lily & Lime, a café in Portsmouth Central Library.
Steven likes meeting new people at work and helping customers. He’s also gained new skills through his job, including customer service and time management skills. Learning new skills is one of the reasons why Steven recommends work or volunteering to others.
Achieve together supporting people to lead happy, healthy and meaningful lives
Lorraine Nash is the floating Regional Manager at Achieve together’s supported living home in Portsmouth. She attributes the achievements of those her team support to a solid working partnership with the YOU Trust.
The YOU Trust is a Hampshire-based charity that empowers people to thrive in their communities. Through its Into Work service, the charity helps individuals with learning disabilities overcome challenges they may face when seeking employment.
Nash explains that the home she oversees has worked closely with an Into Work representative and social workers. This collaboration has enabled the people they support to achieve their well-earned employment successes. Nash looks forward to nurturing this relationship in the future.
She reveals that the best part of her job is promoting the social inclusion for those she supports and seeing them “living fulfilling, busy lives.”
“People we support are encouraged to see their own potential, which can be hard in some cases when they relive some historic prejudices,” she explains.
“Most satisfying is working as a team to reach individuals’ goals, whether that is a job opportunity, increase in day service hours, or a holiday,” she adds. “We will go above and beyond to reach their goals, being creative and thinking outside of the box.”
Achieve together Homes and Services: Championing Person-Centred Support
Achieve together places people it supports and their families at the centre of everything the organisation does. Through its key priority of “valuing everyone,” the organisation celebrates the uniqueness of each person supported.
Achieve together works hard to create supportive environments that enable individuals to thrive. For example, the organisation’s person-centred support has helped Alan* transform his life.
*Name changed to protect anonymity.
Receiving Support at an Achieve together Home
Alan moved into an Achieve together home at the age of 20 following a one-year prison sentence. Alan had experienced a traumatic childhood, and this led to him becoming involved with the criminal justice system on various occasions.
Achieve together homes provide 24/7 specialist support and facilities for individuals with autistic spectrum conditions, complex needs, and learning disabilities.
As a person supported and housed by Achieve together, Alan received support from a proactive multidisciplinary team. The team included a learning disability nurse and a positive behaviour support (PBS) practitioner.
Following the Good Lives Model of Offender Rehabilitation, the Achieve together highly skilled team supported Alan in his search for meaningful work. The strengths-based rehabilitation model promotes ambitions and plans for a more rewarding life.
A New Start
In the past, Alan struggled with alcohol abuse, which led to risky and sometimes aggressive behaviour. This behaviour resurfaced when his parole board licence conditions allowed him to drink again. His difficulties in controlling his alcohol consumption led to an altercation with a neighbour. The incident meant Alan had to relocate.
After moving into an Achieve together supported living flat, Alan once again received help from a dedicated support team. The team included:
- A PBS practitioner.
- A learning disability nurse.
- Safeguarding experts.
- Members of the local police.
At first, excessive drinking continued to impact Alan’s behaviour, but his interactions with others improved over time. Frequent meetings with the learning disability nurse helped Alan focus on:
- Keeping himself safe.
- Boosting his self-esteem and confidence.
- Setting positive life goals.
Alan also worked with his support workers, who helped him follow Achieve together’s Wheel of Engagement model. Through this model, Alan formulated a plan that took every aspect of his life and coping abilities into account.
Alan was better able to prioritise the things he valued and focus on developing the skills he desired, and he began to see a more distinct life path.
Taking Back Control of His Life
Gaining autonomy was an important milestone in Alan’s journey. Another crucial element was building new community connections and friendships beyond his support circle.
When Alan secured his first job, he managed to reduce his reliance on paid support. He is now regarded as having a low likelihood of reoffending, and he no longer depends on alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Achieve together Director of Wellbeing, Strategy, and Collaboration Michael Fullerton emphasises the organisation’s pride in Alan and his supporters’ achievements. Fullerton says Alan’s story highlights how “excellent person-centred support” can help those who have experienced considerable trauma heal and move on.
“As a confident and resilient member of society, Alan is now leading an independent, happy, healthy, and meaningful life,” Fullerton adds.
Achieve together’s Heroes Awards 2023
Achieve together values and champions its team members who deliver exceptional support. The organisation nurtures their talents and helps each team member pursue a rewarding, fulfilling career.
Every year, Achieve together reveals the winners of its Heroes Awards. These awards recognise the achievements of the organisation’s individuals and teams.
Achieve together celebrated its 2023 Heroes Awards finalists and winners at a live-streamed event. The award presentation included inspirational and touching testimonial videos. Nominees and team members submitted these videos in support of the hard-working finalists.
Making It Happen Award Winner
“Making it happen” is one of Achieve together’s values, and it underlines the organisation’s passion for overcoming challenges. This award recognises a team or team member who has consistently empowered the people Achieve together supports so they can live healthy, joyful, and satisfying lives.
Keelee Edwards won the 2023 Making It Happen award. Edwards is a practice lead at Earlmont House, an Achieve together care home, and she is an unwavering advocate for the people she supports.
Excellence In Accessibility Award
The Excellence In Accessibility award goes to a team or team member who has worked hard to ensure no one misses out due to accessibility needs.
Achieve together’s team at Rogerstone House secured the award this year. The team’s commitment to a person with autism led to the individual making huge personal progress and improving his quality of life.
Darryl Chapman Award for Health Promotion
This award celebrates the passionate promotion of people’s holistic health. The Magnolia Cottage team won the 2023 Darryl Chapman award. Their enthusiasm for embracing an innovative support approach had a life-changing impact on one person supported.
Newcomer Of the Year Award
Mia Mitchell-Phillips, a support worker at Wilbury Gardens, won the 2023 Newcomer of the Year award. The award acknowledges the accomplishment of a team member who has worked at Achieve together for less than a year.
Mitchell-Phillips impressed the Achieve together home’s team with her enthusiasm and can-do attitude.
Employee Of the Year Award
Achieve together selects an Employee of the Year award winner from the team members who have been employees of the month over the last 12 months.
Achieve together crowned Philip Smith, a lead support worker at Manor Barn, 2023’s Employee of the Year award winner. Nominees described Smith as a “supporter,” “anchor,” and “friend.”
Team Of the Year Award
The Team of the Year award recognises the central support or frontline care team that has made a significant contribution to the lives of the people Achieve together supports.
The Chestnuts team won the 2023 award, as their resilience and dedication impressed judges. Two family members who nominated the team expressed their gratitude for the team’s empathy and work ethic.
The CEO Award winner is a team member whose dedication and efforts have made a major impact on the organisation over the last year. Martin Simkin, a central support team member, won the 2023 CEO award.
Outstanding Contribution Award
Achieve together’s Outstanding Contribution award celebrates a team member who has shown exceptional brilliance over five years or more.
Wilbury Gardens’ Home Manager Sandra Whittington received the 2023 Outstanding Contribution award. Achieve together called the scale of Whittington’s achievements “impressive.” The award also recognised Whittington’s expertise and ability to nurture talent in her team.
About Achieve together
Achieve together is one of the UK’s foremost support providers for adults who have autism, deafness, hearing loss, learning disabilities, profound and multiple learning disabilities, and associated complex needs. The organisation offers high-quality support to more than 2,300 people through around 420 care homes and services in England and Wales.
Achieve together is inspiring a generation to ensure people enjoy healthy, happy, and meaningful lives. With over 25 years of experience, Achieve together provides exceptional specialist support. The organisation empowers the people it supports so they can develop healthy relationships and key life skills. Achieve together also enables and empowers the adults it supports to build their confidence and self-esteem.
Learn more about Achieve together.