13 April 2021

A pioneering jobs scheme is seeking people with learning disabilities in Portsmouth who are looking to learn the skills needed to get their first job.

The Step Up For Work programme is run by Hampshire-based charity Minstead Trust to provide people with learning disabilities with the skills and opportunities they need to gain employment.

The programme has run for the last two years in the New Forest and placed its first trainees into paid employment in 2020.

Now, the scheme is expanding to Portsmouth thanks to a grant from Solent Supporting Employment Programme. SSE aims to reach and work with individuals facing complex barriers to employment enabling them to move closer towards or into employment. The programme is part funded by the European Social Fund.

The 12 month programme is free to join and includes work skills workshops as well as supported work experience and employment opportunities with local employers.

Portsmouth Step Up For Work recruits will aim to follow in recent graduate Rhianne’s footsteps. Rhianne attended Step Up For Work workshops last year to learn the skills needed for employment, including timekeeping, applying for jobs and interacting with colleagues. A supported work experience placement followed at Minstead Lodge, Minstead Trust’s conference and events venue.

Now, Rhianne has her very first paid job at Paultons Park in the food and beverage department.

Neil Saunders, Job Opportunities Mentor from Minstead Trust said: ‘This is an excellent opportunity for people with learning disabilities in Portsmouth to received tailored employment assistance and mentoring support to help them gain a paid job and lead a more independent lifestyle.

‘The first workshops are due to start from June and we would welcome people to get in touch now to discuss the programme requirements and to book their place. The number of people with learning disabilities in work is far, far too low – we want to change that, one placement at a time.’

The Step Up For Work programme is pioneering in the work experience opportunities it gives to its participants and its five steps to employment success:

  1. Participants are assigned a job opportunities mentor and discuss what kind of work they are targeting
  2. Up to 12 workshops on topics including workplace expectations and interviews
  3. A work experience of up to 26 weeks in a social enterprise
  4. Work placement with external employer
  5. Permanent employment, either paid or voluntary.

As well as seeking people with learning disabilities looking to join the programme, Minstead Trust is also talking to local business partners interested in taking up the opportunity of hosting the training placements on this exciting scheme.

Minstead Trust supports more than 200 people with learning disabilities across Hampshire through supported living accommodation, day opportunities and employment training.

Find out more about the scheme and how you or someone you know can get involved at www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/step-up-for-work

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