Three words to describe Spectrum Care? Growth, support, potential.

Spectrum Care is an all round support provider for children, young people and adults with disabilities. As a part of Launchpad Work, their Business Enterprise team is changing the way they come alongside those struggling to find employment. Instead of facilitating a job destination they have created a two year pathway. At the end of the training programme participants are equipped to enter the mainstream workforce, with work experience placements and ongoing job support.

The project is headed up by a four part team: Sarah studied psychology and worked at youthline before starting a job in service management at Spectrum, Ankush is the onsite team leader and is an integral part of running the programmes, Clare is an outcomes broker with a diverse background in business, and Mareike is the service coordinator, a social worker from Germany who believes each individual deserves the best you can give.

Their pathways programme teaches social skills and interactions that are appropriate in an employment context, running participants through each part of the warehouse process. Each person gains an overview of a variety of work, including assembly work, office skills, delivery and distribution experience.

A lot of people with intellectual disabilities leave school at 21, but can use extra time to mature their softer skills. Spectrum’s two year programme offers time and training for that development to take place. Over these years, they are able to foster relationships with employers, develop competency and encourage social awareness- the first year focusing on learning employment and training, as the second year arranges work experience placements for the participants. After that two years the programme will continue to support participants as they move into mainstream employment.

By coming alongside those with intellectual disabilities and autism they hope to encourage a gradual philosophical change in the way we see support, as well as those who give and receive it. Providing employment that is not a destination but a pathway to growth can change the way we see people with intellectual disabilities and the role they play in society. People with intellectual disabilities are often moved into jobs that do not challenge them in ways that would cause them to grow. Spectrum hopes that by targeting growth they will encourage their participants to upskill and transition into mainstream employment.

This two year employment pathway scheme has been “brewing” for a long time, but the team found Launchpad Work has been the catalyst they needed to turn these ideas into reality. Working in a complex situation without recognising the commercial side of their business, Launchpad has helped them look at each part critically- identifying where they can do the most good and teaching them how to focus on these aspects. Having check ins and regular goals has helped create a structure around for them to grow, with the guidance of venture managers and mentors. They’ve tried to start a pathways programme in the past but have struggled with the capability and capacity to do so, and this time they think the support of Launchpad is the difference.

Traditionally people with disabilities have strict limits but on them based on their capabilities, but the new pathway programme aims to challenge those limits by addressing the adaptive and flexible skills of each individual with the goal to stretch those comfort zones and open a new, wider horizon. Twenty five people with disabilities are currently employed in Spectrum Care’s programmes and we look forward to seeing them grow, along with the Business Enterprise scheme at Spectrum Care.