#DisabilityWorks: support means fulfilling lives

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support, go to:

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 18th November 2016, 11:22 am
At The Autism Centre For Supported Employment, centre manager Glynis Beck and client Chris Wheeler

Or call 0114 2760039.

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Does your company need an employee who will work fastidiously all day on painstaking tasks like data inputting, without making a single mistake?

The perfect person for the job could be someone on the autistic spectrum.

More employers should give people with autism a break, says a Sheffield organisation which for the last 13 years has worked with around 351 clients with various degrees of autism.

Autism Centre For Supported Employment manager Glynis Beck

Glynis Beck, manager of the Sheffield Autism Centre for Supported Employment said: “Our clients bring so much to the workforce. Autism affects people in very different ways, but their disability makes them hard-working employees who always try their best to please.

Added Glynis: “Many of our clients are happy doing work that requires repetition and are perfectionists who have a keen eye for detail. We know there are roles out there which are perfect for them. We want more employees across the Sheffield City Region to utilise their unique abilities.”

For tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link

Or call 0114 2760039.

Feature on disability in employment at The Autism Centre For Supported Employment, Pictured is centre manager Glynis Beck and Chris Wheeler who has used the centre.

The Autism Centre, which was set up 2003, was the idea of Matthew Hesmondhalgh, teacher in charge at King Egbert’s School’s integrated resource for pupils with autistic spectrum disorders.

He believed there wasn’t enough support for young people with autism once they left college and teamed with The Source Skills Academy at Meadowhall, a not-for-profit training organisation, to find a way of getting work placements for people with autism.

The Autism Centre helps clients to job search, write CVs, fill in application forms and practise for interviews, finds them work experience and eventually, paid employment. A team of specialised job coaches support them and their employer in the workplace.

Its 80 current clients range from 16-year-olds to those in their 50s. Some of them have never had a job, others have had many but could never hold them down and didn’t know why. “It was only later their autism was diagnosed,” explained Glynis.

Mark and Addi

“People with autism want to work like their peers, to earn money and have independence.

They are often anxious when they arrive on a placement and may not want to speak to anyone. But with support they gain confidence and a whole new world opens up to them.

“Many go on to live independently and some get married and have families.”

They also become valued members of staff. Many employers say having a person with autism on their team has been a learning curve for them too.

“Their previous understanding of autism was based on what they had seen on TV or in a film,” says Glynis. “I always tell them we don’t have anyone like Rainman on our books.”

A spokesman for The Source, who have always provided free accommodation for the charity and placements for its clients, said: “We are right behind the Autism Centre’s values – supporting people into work is our ethos too.

Skills for Care CEO, Sharon Allen

“We have supported the charity since it founded and are proud to currently have four of its clients on placements at our Meadowhall training centre.”

n Sheffield Autism Centre for Supported Employment is a key partner in Sheffield City Council’s employment programmes which deliver one-to-one high-intensity support to help people with autism get back into work.

For tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link

Or call 0114 2760039.


Mark Stewart has one essential thing that makes the working day easier for him – constant companion Addi.

Mark, aged 26, is profoundly deaf, using a combination of speech and sign language to communicate.

But making life much easier is hearing dog Addi, his constant companion in all walks of life.

Mark graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with an engineering degree – a four-year course that saw him spend his work placement year at a healthcare company in Hull.

Currently unemployed, he is looking into starting his own business, but in the meantime he is volunteering at St Luke’s Hospice, updating training records, analysing feedback from course evaluations, creating Powerpoint presentations and producing reports.

“I have a British Sign language interpreter only for important meetings because my colleagues are two lovely ladies who speak clearly enough for me to read their lips,” explains Mark.

“My mentor Wendy always has paperwork on the desk prepared with sticky notes to let me know what I need to do. As well, when I am alone in the room and a member of staff comes in and asks for my colleagues, I have a message pad for them to complete so I can then pass on the detailed message – it’s all helping to develop great working practices I can use in any future jobs.

“I’m the first deaf person to work in a volunteering role with St Luke’s and I am really enjoying it.

“People at St Luke’s are very kind, warm, friendly and very helpful. I do enjoying meeting new people and having a chat!”

An essential part of every day is Addi, who is with Mark wherever he goes, providing valuable support in all situations.

“At work he alerts me if the fire alarm goes off by tapping my leg with his nose,” Mark says.

“When I ask him ‘What is it?’ he lays down on the floor and I know this means the fire alarm is going off.

“Usually at work he lays next to the desk on his mat and most of the time looks like he is sleeping. Everyone knows Addi is working too so they know not to make a fuss of him as this is very important.”

For tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link

Or call 0114 2760039.


It was eight years ago that Sally Gretton, head of area for Skills for Care, began searching for a manager to work across South Yorkshire.

The person eventually recruited, Zoe Thomas, a wheelchair user, initially said she would only stay in the position for two years, but eight years later she is still with the organisation.

Sally said: “When I interviewed Zoe, she told me that she only stayed in an organisation for two years as she was progressing her career. So we must be doing something right to be able to deliver on her ambitions for this amount of time!”

Zoe’s role now sees her supporting adult social care organisations by building relationships with local authorities, the voluntary sector and business.

The role is demanding, requiring high levels of confidence, motivation and strategic skills.

Zoe employs a support worker with help from Access to Work, so is an employer herself.

She said: “My support worker carries out a range of activities from PC work and note-taking to setting up equipment at exhibitions, as well personal and mobility support.

“This enables me to carry out my varied role including chairing and presenting at meetings and events to build networks and relationships.”

Skills for Care CEO, Sharon Allen, added: “Our recruitment policy is all about employing high-performing people who are skilled and talented so Sally and Zoe’s story shows the benefit of seeing beyond any imagined barriers to get the right person for the job.”

Sally is clear about the value a disabled person can bring and she said: “Being open to recruiting from a wider talent pool means that we can reflect both internally and externally our values as an organisation.

“Zoe exemplifies the fact that a disabled person can work at exactly the same level as someone who doesn’t have a disability.

“She’s one of the first in my team to volunteer when public speaking opportunities arise and her brilliant people skills and no-nonsense approach is second to none.”

For tailored recruitment support, go to: Click this link

Or call 0114 2760039.

Autism Centre For Supported Employment manager Glynis Beck
Feature on disability in employment at The Autism Centre For Supported Employment, Pictured is centre manager Glynis Beck and Chris Wheeler who has used the centre.
Mark and Addi
Skills for Care CEO, Sharon Allen