This week, 19-25 June, is Learning Disability Week and, this year, the event has a focus on employment, including raising awareness of the benefits of employing people with a learning disability.
A learning disability affects the way a person understands information and how they communicate. Around 1.5million people in the UK have one. It is thought up to 350,000 people have severe learning disabilities. This figure is increasing.
Steve Campbell, Learning Disabilities Matron Gloucestershire, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a Trust, we provide a range of learning disability services across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, including working closely with our service users to improve services and help them achieve their goals.
“Raising awareness to help people with learning disabilities and supporting them to live their lives to the fullest is a priority for our Trust.”
The Trust works closely with service users with learning disabilities to review the way they work and to make sure material produced by the Trust is accessible to all.
Tania Threlfall, from Cheltenham, who works with the Trust in this way, shared her story: “I was born with a mild disability and it did affect me growing up, and it affects how I go about my life now.
“It wasn’t until I went to college that I started sticking up for people who have got a disability. People started to see me as an individual and saw the support that I can offer.
“I started working with 2gether in 2008, and have been going to various group and providing guidance and training. I’ve helped staff to provide support for people with learning disabilities.
“This has really helped my confidence. I’m not at all shy anymore and have come out of my shell.
“I realised that I wanted to work with the community and support disabled people other than myself.
“I want people to not focus on people’s disabilities but to look at what they have got inside them too.”
As a Trust, 2gether works closely with organisations such as Forwards to support people with learning disabilities in getting into employment.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said; “Gloucestershire County Council have made a significant investment through Forwards to ensure that people with learning disabilities have the same opportunity as everyone else to achieve their employment aspirations. Some of the services offered through Forwards include personalised support, work clubs, work experience and supported internships.
“One in five people known to the council are now in paid employment. We encourage all employers to discover this dedicated and talented workforce.”
For more information about Forwards, visit http://forwardsgloucestershire.co.uk/index.php
For more information about Learning Disability Services provided by 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, visit https://www.ghc.nhs.uk/other-areas/learning-disabilities/