A leading sight-loss charity is warning that more disabled people could need support to ensure they can access the workplace in the wake of Covid-19.
The Beacon Centre is speaking out after data from the Office for National Statistics showed there are now nearly 700,000 fewer people in work than there were in March.
The charity provides tailored support for people with sight loss and other disabilities to help them improve their skills and find work but says the vulnerable people it helps are concerned they will end up at the back of the jobs queue post Covid-19. Beacon Centre is now calling on employers in the region to recognise the benefits of employing someone with a disability.
Since lockdown began six months ago the charity has made more than 900 phone calls to people needing support, helped with almost 200 job applications and helped 15 people find work or enter training. They also offer advice with benefits, digital training and CV support. Beacon Centre Learning Manager Rachel Shaw said:
“In the coming months we are expecting that even more disabled people will need the tailored support we offer because they have struggled to access new opportunities during the pandemic or have lost confidence due to shielding or not being able to meet with their usual support networks.
“We’re already finding that the people we help are increasingly worried about how they will develop their skills or, if appropriate, find work given the impact of Covid-19 on the jobs market. We want people to know that we can offer them the tailored support they need but also encourage employers to realise the value of having someone with a disability in their workplace.
“People with a disability are as able as anyone else to do most roles and they are just as productive (sometimes more so). They are also generally loyal to an employer that has given them an opportunity which helps with staff retention and reducing recruitment costs. Employing someone with a disability also means the employer is seen as more inclusive and diverse which can have huge benefits internally and externally.”
Among those the charity has helped is Alice Mcluskie from the Black Country who has a visual impairment. Alice said:
“The BBO project has helped me in multiple ways. Firstly, it has introduced me to a variety of different services and activities available to me, including volunteering which has allowed me to be more social and prepares me for future employment.
“Secondly, I have felt supported, with regular job searches and discussions about what I want to work towards. Thirdly, it has given me confidence, which in turn makes me believe that not only can I get into work, but I can start a career I am passionate about regardless of my visual impairment.”
The Beacon Centre runs three employment and skills schemes, BBO Bridges for disabled people age over 25 in the Black Country, BBO Evolve for disabled people over 16 who live in Cannock, Lichfield, Tamworth or East Staffordshire and Pathways to Reablement which is available for those aged over 16 through to past retirement age, from any area, who have sight loss. For more information, you can call 01902 880 111.