Local learning disability charity Minstead Trust and construction company Skanska UK are teaming up on a brand new scheme to help people with learning disabilities into employment.

The organisations celebrated their growing partnership last week by announcing support for Minstead Trust’s innovative Step Up For Work programme.

Currently less than than 20% of people with a learning disability are in employment and many of the 200 people supported by Minstead Trust in Hampshire are keen to gain work experience and skills.

The Trust’s Step Up For Work programme is a brand new approach to this longstanding problem. Workshops and supported work experience in Minstead Trust’s social businesses help people develop the skills and confidence needed to be able to enter paid positions with local employers.

Skanska UK is providing the final part of this flagship initiative by planning the first paid job roles for people who have successfully completed the scheme.

Thanks to grant funding, Minstead Trust is able to offer bursary places on this scheme and is keen to hear from anyone with a learning disability who is interested.

Skanska UK, with the support of TJ Transport, HWM, Pavenet, and Wilson and Scott, has been supporting Minstead Trust over the last year, including by extending their visitor car park. The company has also held conferences and meetings at Minstead Lodge conference centre, and volunteered over 250 staff days with the charity.

Support from Skanska UK and many other businesses is helping the Trust to support more people in their daily lives and with work skills and training.

Simon Watson, Skanska Business Director, said: ‘Skanska’s purpose is to build for a better society and here in Hampshire we are excited to have built a relationship with  Minstead Trust and to ensure a lasting positive legacy for the community. We hope that through the shared success of the Step Up For Work programme we can encourage other businesses in the local area to follow in our steps.’

Madeleine Durie, Minstead Trust Chief Executive, said: ‘We are very grateful to Skanska UK, TJ Transport, HWM, Pavenet, and Wilson and Scott, for their support to extend and mark parking bays in our conference car park as well making use of our conference facilities, where we provide supported training placements. This means we have more money to tackle the shocking levels of unemployment among people with learning disabilities.

‘We look forward to progressing plans to support people into paid work with Skanska UK  in the coming months, as our Step Up For Work programme continues to progress.’

If you or someone you know would like to join the Step Up For Work programme as a supported trainee contact Job Opportunities Mentor Neil Saunders at [email protected] or 02380 912287.