A new mentoring scheme in the Gatwick Diamond area to support unemployed people with learning disabilities or Asperger's Syndrome with their job search activities has come my attention through our Twitter feed (@ClearKit). I think it's an illustration of an emerging trend to use Social Media as a constructive tool for job-seekers.
'A Potential Diamond', launched this year, is the brainchild of Richard Lamplough who has a background in supported employment. In 1993 he worked as job coach for people with learning disabilities, as the years went by he became a leading light in the South West London area, working for a small charity developing and attracting funding for innovative projects to make employment opportunities more accessible for disabled people. Richard's passion has always been finding creative ways to highlight the benefits to employers of employing a diverse workforce.
"If you are a college leaver with learning disabilities or autism and you are eligible for adult care services you might be able to receive job search support from a specialist agency funded by your local authority," says Richard. "But this service might be many miles away from where you live and chances the agency will be over-subscribed and have huge waiting lists. Or it might be that you are considered too able to get help from the specialist support agency funded by your local authority. If this is the case, like other young people, you will be required to attend Jobcentre Plus where you will be referred either to the Work Programme or Work Choice. Whilst I would hope this is a good thing, it's widely acknowledged that these schemes are yet to prove they are providing an effective service for disabled people.
"A Potential Diamond is an initiative that could provide solutions to the problem. I intend to match up learning disabled or autistic job seekers with job search mentors from within their natural networks or their local business communities. With my support the mentors will have new creative tools at their disposal, for example video CVs, to support the job seekers in a truly individual way.
"When my new students meet me for the first time they will, most likely, be slightly confused as to my role. I will explain to them that I am not a college tutor, I am not a Job Centre Plus employee and I do not work for a specialist support agency. So who, or what, am I?
This question proved slightly problematic to my Crawley students and whilst I can't be totally sure they all understood the concept of a natural supporter, I was happy enough to described by one of them as "That slightly crazy bloke who's helping us make video CVs so we can get a job." The CV that first brought light of A Potential Diamond and Richard's work was that of Blake Edwards - see below.
In the video we are introduced to Blake who is leaving college and starting down the road to employment...
Since the video CV was uploaded in July, Blake has gone on to find paid employment with B&Q. Whilst his contract is only for 20 hours initially, it wouldn't surprise Richard if B&Q ask him to go full-time when the store opens properly on Sept 20th.
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