National accolade for North Yorkshire Council’s inclusion team

Members of North Yorkshire Council’s supported employment team are delighted with the accolade. Pictured from left to right are Chris Lund, Louise Knight, Jo Burrows, Helen Tulloch, Alison Sturdy, Charlotte Rudd, Kate Allanson, Eamonn Addison.

A dedicated team which supports adults living with autism and disabilities to achieve their aims and aspirations around employment has received a national seal of approval.

Members of North Yorkshire Council’s supported employment team are celebrating after achieving advanced status through the National Autistic Society’s accreditation process.

The award – the first of its kind for North Yorkshire Council – was given in recognition of the service’s good autism practice and the significant impact staff have on improving the quality of life of adults with a complex range of needs by helping them to secure employment.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “I am immensely proud of the council’s supported employment team for this recognition. Despite significant staffing challenges, they have risen to the challenge to support those in need and worked tirelessly to deliver high quality support services.

“Their hard work and dedication were clearly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic period and I would like to congratulate them on receiving the award.”

Selby resident Robert Marcroft is autistic and struggled for years to get a job until December 2021 when he secured paid employment for the first time at his local supermarket, Morrisons, thanks to the help he received from North Yorkshire Council’s supported employment coordinator, Eamonn Addison.

His mother, Jean Marcroft, and her partner, Phil Mills, said the 26-year-old is now enjoying his new customer assistant role and feels “fortunate” to have received support and guidance from the council, which has enabled him to not only work flexibly, but gain new skills and make friends.

“Robert would have continued to struggle to find a job or even volunteer work if it wasn’t for the council’s supported employment team, especially Eamonn, who guided him through the application and interview process,” said Mr Mills.

“Not all autistic people suffer in the same way as each other so they can adapt accordingly. I am grateful for the management at Morrisons in Selby, for making reasonable adjustments to cater for Robert’s needs. He has brought a lot of skills to the job and in return made new friends.

“He is really enjoying working at the supermarket and we cannot thank the council enough for supporting Robert and bedding him into paid employment.”

North Yorkshire Council’s supported employment team helps adults living with a wide range of disabilities, including autism, to achieve their aims and aspirations around employment. The team gets to know the person, to understand their skills, strengths and talents to help identify the right opportunity, or to work creatively to support the person to gain new skills and experience in order for them to achieve meaningful, paid employment.

They can also help with tasks such as searching for employment, help at interviews, job coaching and supporting employers to identify reasonable adjustments which can make the job role a success. They also work with employers and know the importance of understanding the business’ needs and matching the right person to the right role.

Autism accreditation was introduced by the National Autistic Society in 1992 to improve the support available to autistic people in organisations throughout the UK. To gain accreditation, organisations have to meet a standard of excellence and follow a framework for continuous self-examination and development.

The head of autism accreditation at the National Autistic Society, Christine Flintoff-Smith, said: “North Yorkshire Council’s commitment to supporting autistic people into employment is really impressive and the team should be exceptionally proud of their achievement.

“We have worked with the employment team for many years and we are pleased to see them progress to this level of accreditation.

“The employment gap for autistic people is still far too wide, with only 29 per cent of autistic people in employment across the country. Autistic people have a huge amount to offer employers, but many still face significant barriers in finding and staying in work. We hope many other councils will follow North Yorkshire Council’s lead and play their part in helping to create a society that truly works for autistic people.”

The North Yorkshire team support any adult with an eligible care need who is interested and motivated to find employment. Referrals to the team are made by a social worker or occupational therapist or a call can be made to the customer service centre on 0300 131 2 131 to discuss eligibility.