One of the keys to living a good life is having meaning and purpose. There are many ways to achieve this, and working is one of them. Having a job provides opportunities to develop skills and interests, meet and connect with other people as peers and colleagues, as well as earning money which helps provide comfort and security.
Many people with learning disabilities, and autistic people, find it difficult to find paid employment. Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires us to,
‘Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one’s own business’
C-Change is an organisation that enthusiastically adopts a human rights based approach so looking back, what have we done to fulfil that mandate?
As well as routinely supporting people to pursue their employment ambitions using traditional means, we held 3 events based on the popular BBC2 program “Dragons’ Den” to promote entrepreneurial activity. The first was part of our 10 Year Celebration in 2011 in Glasgow, we ran another in 2015 and again in 2016. Our Dragons’ (judges) were either professionals, local politicians, or local business owners, all of whom gave their time and expertise for free.
At each event people we work for had the opportunity to pitch for funding to kick start their business initiatives. These included 2 budding DJ businesses, a small catering enterprise, driving lessons for a handyman service and equipment for a hand car wash business among others. Is this enough? Absolutely not.
At the recent Planning for Better event Calum, a person we work for, reminded us that we haven’t run a Dragons Den event for some time.
We have continued to support people to access paid and voluntary employment, and there are some great success stories.
Supporting the person they work for to achieve life ambitions is a key aspect of our Personal Development Worker colleague’s role. Even with this, sometimes we need to be reminded to redouble our efforts, as Calum so helpfully did.
There is an abundance of great ideas and business opportunities that just require a little extra support to get them off the ground. We all deserve the opportunity to fully participate, including through employment and everyone who can and wants to work should have the support and opportunities to do so. We are committed to creating a fairer and more equal society.
So, early next year we will be casting the net for other budding entrepreneurs, people with ideas, skills and enthusiasm. We will also be on the lookout for Dragons. If you are interested get in touch. Watch this space!
- Article 23(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognises that the right to work is a fundamental right: ‘Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment’.
- A study by The Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD) in 2017 estimated employment rate of 7% for learning disabled people compared to over 74% for the general population. (1)
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