Step into Work Plus, a specialist programme to help people with
autism into work run by Wirral Autistic Society is not only proving
highly successful for those involved and receiving enquiries from
across the UK, it has now been shortlisted for a prestigious
national Independent Specialist Care Award, 2014.
Robin Bush, Chief Executive of the Wirral Autistic Society,
said, "Since winning its Lottery grant in 2011, the Step into Work
Plus team has achieved a tremendous amount and this award
nomination is richly deserved. At the Wirral Autistic Society our
aim is to be the gold standard service for people with autism. We
don't just want to be the best nationally - we want to be world
Designed to help those with Asperger Syndrome (AS) get ready for
the world of work, the 24 week programme
includes a 12 week work placement for those with AS. To date
a quarter of the students have already had two or three placements
with six remaining as volunteers and 11 accepting paid roles.
The 24 week programme also
includes numerous workshops and field trips, where students
get the chance to practice social skills. Students work together to
develop new business ideas, play team games and work with IT
programmes designed to aid concentration, memory and
collaboration. On 'Smart Fridays' they have the opportunity
to dress for business.
The programme also helps employers recognise that those with AS
can be capable, dependable members of staff.
Programme Manager Beverley Breen said, "We are delighted that
news of our programme is spreading. We've had enquiries from as far
afield as Kent, Northampton, Wales, Cheshire and Lancashire.
Approximately 75 per cent of people with autism or AS would like to
work, but are actually claiming state benefits, so it's not
surprising that people want to snap up the opportunity to gain work
and work experience. We've had some great outcomes at Step into
Work plus and our students are steady, reliable and trustworthy
people who take such pride in what they do and, by working
together, we aim to help employers to see their value too."
This highly successful programme has already shown how much of
an impact it can have on people's lives. Chris Birss, 18,
from Birkenhead, who took up a work placement at the Light Cinema
in New Brighton, where he did unpaid work as part of the front of
house team and has since been rewarded with a permanent part-time
paid role said, " I have been thrilled to participate and have
surprised myself with how much I have been able to achieve with
support and advice from Step into Work plus. I really hope they win
this award - it would be such a boost for all the other guys on the
Jane Woodason, Education Manager at the Light Cinema, said, "We
are pleased to be giving Chris - and his warm and pleasant
personality - a chance to shine here and have been impressed by the
way he has developed skills and adapted to his tasks. We've
watched his confidence grow and grow and he's working really well
with our customers and staff. He's achieved a great deal and we are
proud of him."
Chris's mother, Lynn Birss, added, "I'm so glad we got Chris a
place on this programme. He has come on in leaps and bounds. I was
worried about him finding work but he's fitted in really well at
the Light Cinema. The whole team have helped him learn and
now he works as part of that team, doing everything the others
do. Now I just want to tell other parents of children with
autism about Step into Work plus and how it can help your young
people and change your life."
Other employers involved with the programme include Tranmere
Rovers FC, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, Caldy Cleaning and
the Odean Cinema in Bromborough.
The winners of the Independent Specialist Care Awards 2014 will
be announced at an award ceremony in London on March 12.
Independent Specialist Care Awards: Now in their
fourth year, these awards highlight the best performing private and
voluntary providers of social care services for adults with
learning or physical disabilities or mental health conditions.
Wirral Autistic Society: Founded in 1968, the
society cares for and supports people with autism and social
communication difficulties. It offers specialist support
services for families and children, residential care, respite care
and supported living, amongst others. www.wirral.autistic.org