Midlothian Matters – Breaking down employment barriers

Emma Bain (right) and Midlothian employer Elea Strang of Kevock Garden Plants (left)
Emma Bain (right) and Midlothian employer Elea Strang of Kevock Garden Plants (left)

When you meet someone new for the first time, what do you talk about? Most of us won’t open up immediately about family or friends, but we will will happily talk about our work, because we tend to think our jobs define who we are, writes David Bain from IntoWork.

It’s something many of us take for granted, but even with today’s relatively low levels of unemployment, a significant number of people remain out of work. And the majority of those people experience barriers related to their disability or long term health condition.

These barriers result in low levels of employment: 46.3 per cent of working-age disabled people are employed compared with 76.4 per cent of the general working-age population, a 30.1 per cent difference.

However, these figures mask much more alarming statistics. A National Autistic Society survey reveals only 16 per cent of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment; an even lower rate of 6.3 per cent for people with a learning disability is recorded by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability.

One study suggested that 79 per cent of people with serious, long-term mental health problems in Scotland were not in employment. Individuals with mental illness now form the largest proportion of people claiming incapacity benefits and over a third of those cite mental ill health as their primary reason for claiming.

In the Lothian area, IntoWork has been helping disabled jobseekers find employment for almost two decades, and with financial support from the Big Lottery, Midlothian Council and European funding, our small local team of two people has recently increased by 50 per cent to three!

Emma Bain joins Rob Daly and Rowena Diggle on the IntoWork Midlothian team to support local residents who want to look for work, but have found this difficult because of their disability or health condition.

IntoWork uses a tried and tested method of helping people into work. Approved by the Scottish Government, the 5-stage supported employment model was co-developed by IntoWork and is now widely used across Scotland. One allocated Employment Adviser will provide consistency and continuity by guiding jobseekers through the whole process from first contact through to getting the right job and supporting them to keep it and develop their career. We can help with CV building, interview practice, job search and contacting employers, completing applications and all points in between.

If you think this is for you, please email enquiries@intowork.org.uk to make a referral.

Do you want to raise the profile of your local group or charity?

Does your organisation have a Midlothian project it wants to highlight?

Email us at midlothianadvertiser@jnlothian.co.uk (subject Midlothian Matters)