Young disabled Londoners are set to benefit from a new £3.3 million scheme, which is designed to open a wealth of employment opportunities for them. Bridge to Work is funded by City Bridge Trust, the City Corporation’s charitable arm, and aims to narrow the employment gap for young disabled people in the capital with financial backing for organisations tackling the issue.
Launched at Parliament’s Speaker’s House, Bridge To Work was revealed to an audience of charities and businesses from across the capital. Employment rates have risen steadily in London over the last ten years. However, only half of working-age disabled people in the capital are in employment, compared to nearly four out of five non-disabled people.
Over the next five years the Bridge to Work Programme will provide funding for projects which offer employability support for young disabled people, and strengthen links between employers and the disabled community. Projects will include specialist, personalised support for young people looking for work, including work experience, advice on employment rights, research and strategic policy work, job coaching and the development of an online training resource for job seekers.
As part of the £3.3 million funding package, City Bridge Trust will fund Leonard Cheshire Disability to help young disabled Londoners into jobs with a £350,000 bursary scheme for paid internships. The initiative, called ChangeLondon, will allow Leonard Cheshire Disability to award bursaries of up to £4,000 per person on behalf of City Bridge Trust to London’s small and medium sized companies and charities. This will provide paid work experience to young disabled Londoners.
“Research shows that at the age of 26, disabled people are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people,” said Alison Gowman, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee. “We want to open up new opportunities for disabled people in work experience and paid internships to radically change these statistics.
“The UK economy cannot afford to overlook such a significant segment of the workforce. A pool of talent, experience and new perspectives which can help companies to grow by reflecting more fully the diverse range of customers they serve,” she added.
“We recognise that the barriers to employment faced by disabled people can be multiple and complex, but many challenges can be overcome with the right support. City Bridge Trust is fully committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”
Leonard Cheshire Disability CEO, Neil Heslop, said: “The employment futures for young disabled people are a continuing cause for major concern. We're delighted to be partnering with City Bridge Trust, and to work with small and medium sized businesses and charities to narrow the disability employment gap across London."