Published Thursday, 06 August 2020
Changing Futures Together is an exciting programme offering young disabled people in Coventry the opportunity to gain skills in the workplace, with the aim of getting into paid employment.
Warren, who is 19 and has a learning disability, is one of four young people taking part in a new and exciting Supported Internship programme at the University of Warwick.
‘Changing Futures Together’ is a partnership between Coventry City Council, University of Warwick, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust and Coventry Special Schools. The programme offers young disabled people the chance to gain skills and experience in the workplace while working towards paid employment.
The young people, work alongside University of Warwick employees who act as mentors, while being supported by Job Coaches from Coventry City Council’s Employment and Skills Service. The interns also work with the Adult Education Service to improve their maths and English skills whilst working towards Customer Service and work-based qualifications.
Cllr Kevin Maton, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “Programmes such as Changing Futures Together provide young people with a fantastic opportunity to gain really valuable skills in a structured environment in roles that they may otherwise struggle to access.
“Not only do they get to benefit from lots of support from mentors and employers, young people like Warren also have the chance to demonstrate how much they can achieve and thrive within these roles.”
Warren first became known to the service in early 2019 through the Job Shop’s supported internship programme with UHCW, where Warren’s Nan Teresa worked as a cleaner. Teresa had been involved in the programme for two years as a mentor and her fantastic mentoring support has enabled three young disabled people to gain paid employment at UHCW. When Teresa approached the Job Shop concerning her own grandson Warren, the team were thrilled to be able to give something back.
Initially, a meeting was arranged with Warren at the Job Shop to see how he could be supported. The Supported Internship programme at the University of Warwick and the type of placements on offer were discussed. Warren was very keen on a role within the Maintenance team where he felt he could gain the skills and experience he needed.
Before starting at the University in January 2020, Warren took part in some training courses at the Job Shop and his Job Coach provided him with travel training to get to the University.
At the beginning of the programme, the interns completed a three-week induction programme which included relevant work-based training, sessions which focused on the University’s core values and importantly time spent getting to know the relevant mentors and teams involved.
Warren was placed as a Multi-skilled Labourer in Maintenance, part of University of Warwick’s Estates department. The role involves completing a large variety of maintenance jobs all over the campus alongside different mentors.
Warren said: “I love my placement, the people I work with are so supportive, they made me feel part of the team straight away. I have waited a long time to be given a chance like this.”
Sean Moloney, Mechanical Services Supervisor, said “Warren is an absolute pleasure to have in the team with us, he turns up early every day with a smile on his face and is always keen to learn as much as possible whilst he is with us. He has fit into our team with ease and in a short space of time has built friendships with everyone in the section as well as other departments.”
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Warren’s placement was put on hold. In the lead up to this Warren showed a tremendous work ethic and a great commitment to his team by working until the services had to be reduced to a minimum.
Moving forward, preparation is being made for Warren to return to his placement this summer. In the meantime, Warren has been volunteering at a local Food Hub which provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. Warren would love to secure employment at the University, and he believes the supported internship is giving him the best possible chance to do so