It’s a short paper worth reading in full, so below are just a few quick reflections.
- Recognising disabled people as a seriously under-used resource that can contribute to the UK’s position in the “global race” and our overall economic performance is an excellent frame
- It’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the general and specialist work programmes aren’t working for the people who need them most because they’re, erm, not working! The data brought together to show this is the case is excellent and thorough.
- The programmes are also incredibly poor value for money. At a time when there’s even more need for every £1 to be spent well, we should ensure as many of those £1s are spent on interventions that are known to work for people who need them (such as Individual Placement and Support, IPS, for people with mental health problems)
- Where to start with end-to-end, behemoth providers? Let’s just stick with (a) they don’t make the most of the expertise that other providers have when it comes to specialist employment support; and (b) they don’t enable personalised approaches (possibly because they don’t get personalisation?)
- There’s a significant role for peer support to play in supporting people into and retaining employment.
One final point: it’s great to see the report’s recommendations pushing so hard for personalised approaches in employment. There has been a tendency for personalisation to be seen only in the context of health and social care ; important as it is in those policy areas, personalisation is something we must strive for in public sector provision that affects all areas of disabled people’s lives.
The Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP, recently announced further measures to ensure disabled people can benefit from Access to Work.
The Government will also implement a package of measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel, chaired by Mike Adams from the Essex Coalition of Disabled People (ecdp).
One of the measures recommended by the Access to Work expert panel is for “Grassroots disability organisations (Disabled People’s User Led Organisations) to look at what else can be done to provide one-to-one peer support to disabled people using the Access to Work scheme”.
This Expression of Interest outlines how you can get involved in this work.
DPULOs, peer support and Access to Work – background
DPULOs currently deliver peer support in areas such as social care and volunteering. Evidence from social care reports show people have more choice and control and flexibility over their care and support through peer-led approaches, including in assessment, care planning and implementation. Formal programmes in health – such as the Expert Patient Programme – are also built on principle of peer support.
We are now keen to look at how peer support can work for people using Access to Work in their local area.
There is a variety of options for DPULOs to deliver peer support activities in their local area which could both complement and supplement support provided through the Access to Work process. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Buddying scheme – pairing up individuals with similar impairments / conditions or employment situations who use Access to Work
- Advice – DPULOs can provide focussed and targeted advice on specific groups, eg people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions, or young disabled people
- Support – DPULOs could provide support to employers and encourage and up skill JCP advisers to support employers in their local area
- Workshops – DPULOs could arrange Access to Work workshops with groups of people in preparation for starting work or long-term sick employees returning to work. Workshops would be able to identify what help is available and enable employees to have an opportunity to share learning of what works
- Other forms of peer support – DPULOs can offer various other forms of peer support, such as one-to-one, on the telephone, or as mentoring in the workplace. Workplace peer support could also be used to enable disabled employees to progress in work and more importantly keep the job.
What we are going to do
Working through the Strengthening Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations programme, we are inviting local DPULOs to put forward their ideas for delivering innovative peer support for people using Access to Work. This can be either a new project, or build on something you are already doing.
We are aiming to start this work as soon as possible. Expressions of Interest are invited below, and will be marked according to the criteria highlighted.
Organisations that are successful at the Expression of Interest stage will be asked to write a full proposal for consideration at a special meeting of the Facilitation Fund Board, which will comprise members of the Access to Work Expert Panel and Ambassadors from the Strengthening DPULOs Programme.
We are looking for around 10 local DPULOs to deliver a project. We anticipate these projects beginning in January 2013 and running for approximately 12 months, including evaluation.
Please note: any DPULO is eligible to express an interest, even if you have already received funding from the Facilitation Fund. The normal Facilitation Fund financial limits will not apply to this work. For further information on this, please contact Rich Watts (details below).
Expressions of Interest
We would like DPULOs to submit a brief (no more than 4 sides A4) Expression of Interest to deliver an innovative peer support project for AtW in their local area.
Your Expression of Interest will be marked against the following criteria:
- The DPULO’s knowledge, understanding and expertise regarding Access to Work and the barriers individuals face
- The DPULO’s track record in delivering peer support approaches that result in tangible differences in their local area
- The DPULO’s idea for an innovative peer support project for Access to Work in their local area
- The scalability of the proposed innovative peer support project
- The DPULO’s approach to partnership work in delivering the project
- The DPULO’s approach to capturing learning and evaluating the effectiveness of the project
- The DPULO’s capacity to demonstrate the ability to deliver this work over the next 12 months
- The proposed cost for this project and its value for money.
Expressions of Interest will be considered and marked by the Strengthening DPULOs Programme and members of the Access to Work Expert panel. Shortlisted DPULOs will be chosen solely on the basis of the information provided.
Please submit your Expression of Interest to Richard.Watts1@dwp.gsi.gov.uk by 5pm on Friday 14 December.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with Rich above. Similarly, if you know a DPULO who may be interested in this opportunity, please pass this information on to them.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Essex Unite – a peer-led employment programme run by ecdp (a DPULO based in Essex).
In partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the private sector group MITIE, Essex Uniteis a ground-breaking work experience training programme that offers unemployed disabled people the opportunity to participate in meaningful work placements.
What is unique about the programme is that it’s a peer-led programme: disabled individuals supporting other disabled individuals to achieve their aspirations and life goals.
The first week of Essex Unite has now taken place – a pre-placement week offering a number of training courses before the 16 people involved head off to 6 weeks of work experience with matched employers.
Full details of the first 5 days of the Essex Unite course can be found on ecdp’s website below:
There are a couple of things in particular to look out for. The first is this Audioboo of Leanne, one of the participants, talking about her experiences
The others are the interest that BBC Essex has taken in the programme. Dave Monk from BBC Essex will be following participants as they progress, and the first installment (in two parts) is below.
To keep up-to-date, you can follow the programme via www.ecdp.org.uk/essex-unite
*For info, I’m seconded from ecdp to the Strengthening DPULOs Programme.
Though it is undoubtedly a tough environment at the moment, it’s important to highlight when there are examples of successes for DPULOs across the country. Below is news of some work ecdp – a DPULO based in Chelmsford, Essex – are doing in the area of employment, kindly contributed by their Director of Insight, Paschal Kane.
ecdp is an Essex-based organisation run by and for disabled people with a long and well established history of working to enhance the lives of disabled people within the Essex community.
In partnership with Jobcentre Plus and the private sector group MITIE, ecdp is delighted to announce a ground-breaking work experience training programme designed to offer unemployed disabled individuals the opportunity to participate in meaningful work placements to give them the drive, experience and confidence needed to get into paid employment.
The programme is called ‘Essex Unite’ and is a commitment between the partners to offer bespoke training, delivered flexibly at the right pace for 18 disabled individuals. It is an 8 week programme which will include a pre-placement week offering a number of training courses such as, how to deliver good customer service, how to develop leadership skills and how to manage health and stress levels. It also includes 6 weeks of valuable work experience, with participants being matched with appropriate employers in order to gain the right level of experience to support them back into work.
Following the work placement, individuals will participate in a post programme transition week which will include CV and job interview workshops. For three months after the programme, ecdp will continue to support Essex Unite participants to ensure that they build on their experience and capitalize on employment opportunities.
What is unique about Essex Unite is that it is a peer to peer led programme, with disabled individuals supporting other disabled individuals to achieve their aspirations and life goals.
The success of ‘Essex Unite’ depends on developing new partnership opportunities with organisations which share our ambitions to nurture talent and provide an equal chance for all. ecdp has already secured a number of work placement commitments from a variety of private, public and third sector stakeholders but there is more work to do to ensure the programme has a lasting legacy. With ‘Essex Unite’ the goal is to develop a new model of co-operation between the public and private sector to tackle social problems at a local level. Building on the well-established principles of corporate social responsibility, ecdp believe this innovative and creative training programme will not only enhance the private and public sectors understanding of disability but ultimately lead to higher retention rates, greater productivity and better community relations.
Essex Unite milestones:
- Breakfast Launch Event on 31st July, Cllr. Anne Brown of Essex County Council to speak
- Participant open day – end of August (exact date tbd).
- Work Experience Programme Start – Beginning of September
The week before last, the Government made an announcement that disability employment support services will be focused on individuals rather than institutions. This was in response to the Sayce Review and how the £320m protected budget for disability employment could be used more effectively to support thousands more disabled people into work.
As part of the announcement, the Government guaranteed an £8m package of tailored support for up to 18 months to support all disabled Remploy staff affected by the changes.
As some of you might know, my work focuses on what Disabled People’s User- Led Organisations can and already do contribute to public service reform and society more generally. This includes looking at ways of (a) how to ensure there are more DPULOs, and (b) how to ensure they are sustainable.
After the disability employment support announcement last week, some people on Twitter and in other places highlighted that there could be a role for disabled people’s user-led organisations and voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations to play in providing support or opportunities in the changes taking place.
Disabled Remploy workers should be supported to set up user-led social enterprises.
Similarly, Mark Brown (of One in Four magazine) asked:
How about each threatened #remploy factory looking at becoming #dpulo (disabled people’s user led org) or #socent? Do you think it might work?
(A question that was reported in Society Guardian Daily, no less!)
Such suggestions very much informed and tallied with thinking on how best the support package could be distributed or used.
What I’m very pleased to say, therefore, is that the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller MP, highlighted that part of the £8m support package announced – some £1.5m of it, in fact – will be made available to DPULOs and VCS organisations through a dedicated Community Support Fund. (This was mentioned in the oral statement and the Commons debate – columns 952 and 965 here.)
This Community Support Fund will provide grants to local DPULOs and VCS organisations to support Remploy employees in making the transition from sheltered employment to mainstream employment. The CSF would be focused particularly in the geographic areas in which Remploy employees will live, and so will include working in Wales and Scotland as well as England.
What that support looks like, though, is very much down to the local DPULO to determine, working with the people they support and taking account of local circumstances.
Personally, I think this is a tremendous opportunity for DPULOs to show how they can provide local, personalised support that responds directly to the requirements of disabled people in their local communities. They will specifically make a difference to people affected by the announcement made about disability employment support services. We have some funding to support this role and have a great opportunity to positively and constructively shape this so the support is made available in the best way possible.
No, not a(nother) paean to the iPhone or iPad in memory of Apple’s departing chief exec, but the latest instalment in At Times Like This I Wish I Was American, as President Bartlett – sorry, Obama – gives a state of the nation speech to a nation in a pretty terrible state.
With Labor Day behind us (them) and the campaigning for 2012 entering the phase when (some) Americans actually pay (some) attention, consider this a starting pistol post, in the hope that we can maintain a healthy amount of gazing across the Atlantic on arbitrary constant as the election itself draws nearer.
If you haven’t already and have a half hour to spare you really could do worse than spending it watching the full thing. Not as soaring as others in the Obama Canon, maybe, but impressively direct and well-crafted and, it almost goes without saying, delivered with style. The tone and content can be well summed up with this excerpt:
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.
Throughout Obama expertly married the local and the global, the everyday and the political. Held together by the ringing refrain, repeated time and again, of ‘pass this jobs bill’. The most profound passage though, for me, was when the President addressed head-on the inherent and to many the fascinating duality at the heart of the American psyche. In response to the GOP creed that government should just ‘get out of the way’, Obama said:
Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world. But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
Because when Americans say they want to be left alone to get on with it, they don’t mean really left alone, they mean ‘left to do the kind of things I want to do with my kind of people‘. I was reminded of the studies quoted in David Brooks’ The Social Animal which appear to show that in the States (especially) people choose party affiliation based on views handed down by their parents, or early in adulthood based on stereotypes of what ‘Democrats’ and ‘Republicans’ are like, and then stick with whichever camp they think is most similar to them. Policy choices barely figure.
Then, party affiliation becomes the independent variable, shaping views on key issues (survey data suggests that, for example, people become Republicans first and then place increasing value on limited government, rather than the other way around) and – crucially in the current context – shaping perceptions of reality. Whether, for instance, in the case of one study, inflation had risen or fallen.
And that’s the point: however good this speech was, its substantive effect on the minds of voters is likely to be limited, making Democrats happier and Republicans angrier. Independents will continue to wait and see whether the economy picks up. The chances of a fillip within the next twelve months or so are limited when so many households and businesses are still continuing to pay down pre-crisis debt.
Anyway, with GOP members of congress in deeply intransigent mood, Obama’s Administration has little chance of getting his proposals through, so whether they’ll work or not is largely academic. What the President achieved, though, in using any president’s most potent weapon – the bully pulpit – to good effect, was to lay down the gauntlet, allowing him to credibly place the blame at the door of Congress when things don’t get better. Risky strategy, but the only one realistically open to him at this time of US decline.