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Ipswich training pioneer welcomes ‘excellent’ disabled jobs funding boost

PUBLISHED: 16:39 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 09 August 2018

Donna Wyatt who works at Growing Places in Claydon, Ipswich Picture: ANNE WISE/REALISE FUTURES

Donna Wyatt who works at Growing Places in Claydon, Ipswich Picture: ANNE WISE/REALISE FUTURES

Anne Wise/Realise Futures

Extra government funding to support disabled people in work has been welcomed by a Suffolk and Essex social enterprise striving to help those looking for jobs.

Jenny Brick, business development director at Realise Futures Picture: JAMES FLETCHERJenny Brick, business development director at Realise Futures Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Ipswich-based Realise Futures says a decision by work and pensions secretary Esther McVey to increase funding to £5,000 a year for those working in ‘supported businesses’ would enable it to support more disabled people looking for work.

The government commitment to the Access to Work funding for two years from April 2019 has secured the future of thousands of jobs for disabled employees around the country, said Realise Futures, which specialises in a range of training and employment services for people with disabilities and disadvantages.

Realise Futures currently supports 56 people on protected placements working in its RF Works division, made up of six social businesses in Suffolk, ranging from horticulture, food and catering, fulfilment and eco outdoor furniture.

Business development director Jenny Brick said: “It’s excellent news and a huge relief for our current employees on protected placements, the staff who support them and the organisation as a whole.

“It is also great news in recognising the unique contribution that supported businesses make in offering employment to disabled people, and the fact that the model has been recognised and committed to by policy makers going forwards.

“The work we have undertaken as a member of the Supported Business Steering group to lobby the Department for Work and Pensions for the continuation of this funding has put Realise Futures firmly on the radar with the Department of Work and Pensions at a national level, and I am incredibly proud of the work that the team has done to get to this point.”

Disabled employees working for supported businesses can benefit from job coaches, additional HR support, adapted working practices and extra supervision.

“Our social mission is to help and support those furthest from the workforce to progress and achieve. Although there is still a lot of work to be done going forwards to clarify all the details, this is good news for disability employment,” she said.

Realise Futures employs around 340 people, of which 30% are disabled and/or disadvantaged.

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