A look at Sheffield’s Local Supported Employment programme

The Local Supported Employment (LSE) programme in Sheffield is delivered by Sheffield City Council’s Employment and Skills service, Opportunity Sheffield. Working as Job Coaches on this project are Richard Perry and Jenat Shah.

The aim of the LSE programme is to help people with learning disabilities and or autism into paid employment. It is all about getting to know individuals and identifying their aims, goals and desires. Job Coaches find what this may look like in terms of employment, and then trying to make this happen by engaging with employers to explaining the benefits of employing somebody who is neurodiverse and supporting the participant (and the employer) to try and ensure the job is sustained. Richard and Jenat are there to help throughout the process and beyond, including an on site presence to assist with training and supervision, if required.

The programme has attracted a great number of candidates that Richard and Jenat have been working with, and there has been great feedback for the project so far. Below is a testimonial from an employer who has experienced success since engaging with the programme.

Written by Element Games

Here at Element Games Sheffield, we’ve been very happy to engage with Richard and the Sheffield Local Supported Employment Programme, after they approached us to be involved in what seems a very worthwhile scheme to help people like Bill into a supported workplace. I’ve been involved with a number of similar schemes in different areas of the country over the last 20 years, and I have to say that this has been one of the best supported I’ve yet encountered. Most of these have been “place and forget” ideas, whereas with this scheme, the Job Coach has been contactable and engaged throughout the process.

It is no surprise to me that, with this level of support, the programme has been successful for us. Of course, expectations have to be managed in terms of what’s achievable, but the LSE has delivered benefits for all parties: Of course, the council gains an employment placement for someone who might struggle to cope with a traditional recruitment process and our company has benefited from an eager and helpful member of staff, but by far and away the biggest beneficiary has been Bill himself. When Richard first brought Bill to us, he was reluctant to speak, quiet and withdrawn. However, over the course of the last couple of months, Bill has clearly grown more comfortable and outgoing. Where he used to shuffle in the door and wait around to be given instruction, he now walks confidently into the store, gives us a smile and a wave, and checks to see if the delivery has arrived yet. Bill has also come in on his days off, to show me some of his ongoing hobby projects, which is something that he would never have done before.

Of course, this remains a project in progress. I believe there is more to come from Bill. He’s still quiet, and although he’s more willing to ask for help when he needs it, this isn’t always the case, and thus requires vigilance from the existing staff to pro-actively assist. However, it’s also important not to understate the progress that Bill has made. It’s amazing that the difference a bit of structure, as well as a welcoming working environment, can make to someone who hasn’t necessarily experienced this before. If anyone has been approached about this programme, and is unsure as to whether it’s something they should get behind, I wholeheartedly encourage them to do so. It’s a supported process, and those behind the scheme are definitely approachable and happy to assist with any help you may need.

Anybody interested in engaging with Sheffield’s LSE programme can contract Richard Perry (richard.perry@sheffield.gov.uk) or Jenat Shah (jenat.shah@sheffield.gov.uk)