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Information for employers

The idea of employing someone with learning disabilities can be a little daunting for employers. But they soon discover that it’s a simple and incredibly rewarding process.

There are many benefits to employing someone with learning disabilities or autism, including:

  • You receive a fully trained member of staff, rather than someone who needs to learn on the job.
  • Our candidates thrive on routine and stability, so you will have a reliable employee and lower staff turnover.
  • “Job carving” roles, which identifies specialist tasks for our candidates to perform, can take away repetitive jobs from other members of your team, freeing up their time for different activities. Find out more about job carving.
  • Our candidates don’t necessarily require full time employment, they are well suited to working just a few days or even a few hours a week, to fit in with your requirements.
  • We don’t charge you for training and coaching your new employee, so there’s a significant saving in terms of recruitment costs, particularly if you are continually recruiting for a high turnover job role.
  • Your absence costs may also reduce – a study into workforce reliability has shown that people with a learning disability have significantly less sickness absence and are less likely to be late to work than their non-disabled co-workers.*
  • Research shows that having someone with learning disabilities in your business can enhance the empathy and wellbeing of the whole team.#

Seb’s a good worker. I wouldn’t employ him if he couldn’t do the job.

— Owner, Terrain Vehicles.

For more information about the benefits of Supported Employment please visit the BASE website or take a look at the latest research from Mencap.

* Source: Beyer and Beyer (2017), Learning Disability Week 2017 research report, Reliability of workers.

# Source: Beyer and Beyer (2017), Learning Disability Week 2017 research report, Productivity and workforce cohesion benefits

Training for you, your team and our candidates

Free workshops

If you’re thinking of employing one of our jobseekers, then we’ll firstly invite you to one of our free workshops.

This will help you understand any minor adjustments you may need to make and enable you and your team to gain confidence about having a colleague with a learning disability or autism.

Training programme

Once you’ve made the decision to employ one of our trainees, then we’ll work with you to discuss the specific role(s) you’d like to fill and the skills our candidate will need to have.

This will enable us to put together a training programme tailored to your requirements and provide appropriate Job Coaching support.

Work experience

If you’re not quite sure whether you’re ready to employ one of our candidates, then you could always consider providing a short term work experience placement instead.

In-work support

As well as systematically training the right person to work for you, we also provide a Job Coach to support them when they start work.

The Job Coach will stay in the workplace for up to six months, to ensure your new employee, and you, are completely happy. The Job Coach will then take a step back but will still be available should the need arise.

I am a Care Manager managing a 31 bed home in East Sussex, I have had the pleasure in working closely with Little Gate Farm and with their supported employment scheme.  Andrea Randall-Smith is a strong advocate for the Learning Disabled employees. She acts in their best interest as well as considering the best interest of the care home. She always consults with me as the manager and is very good at resolving any difficult issues.

— Employer.

The pathway to employment

The majority of jobseekers within our Supported Employment programme will have been trained by us and may have had experience through work experience and apprenticeships prior to being placed in a suitable job role. This enables us to ensure that the candidate is prepared for employment and gives us an opportunity to assess their aptitudes and personal preferences.

Occasionally we will place a candidate into Supported Employment without prior training, but this is only done if we have fully assessed the candidate and deem them suitable for immediate employment. Find out more about how we match candidates to jobs.

Positions we’re seeking

We always welcome approaches from any employer who might have an opportunity for one of our jobseekers.

At the moment, we’re particularly looking for paid jobs in these areas:

  • Café/restaurants, including waiters/waitresses, kitchen prep and front of house jobs.
  • Care homes, including kitchen, gardening, maintenance and care roles.
  • Creative apprenticeships, such as in graphic design.
  • Hotel and hospitality work, including housekeeping apprenticeships.

The patients really warm to Elly and she is so kind and caring.

— Hazlemere Nursing Home, where Elly works as Activities Assistant.

Employ a trainee

Anna does a great job and is really helpful.

Kench Hill Charity, where Anna works as a Kitchen Assistant.

Office skills

We train our jobseekers in a wide range of office skills, including IT and administrative tasks.

Many of the routine tasks within an office suit our candidates perfectly and they thrive on the repetitive nature. This allows them to bring a high level of efficiency and reliability to similar roles in their working lives.

Hospitality and catering

This is an area of learning which our trainees really love as they acquire skills which can help them enormously in their personal lives, as well as in their eventual employment. We train a range of hospitality and catering capabilities, including kitchen tasks (lunch on the farm is prepared by our trainees every day) and customer service skills.

Our trainees also benefit from the events we hold at Little Gate Farm, which are a great opportunity for work experience.

Horticulture and cut flower enterprise

At our Little Gate Farm training centre, we have an area dedicated to the production of cut flowers which is managed by our trainees, as well as growing fruit and vegetables for our kitchen.

This gives our trainees valuable horticultural skills which can be transferred to jobs in the gardening and horticulture sectors.

It also provides a fantastic insight into the principles of business as the trainees manage the process “from seed to sale”; because we sell the cut flowers on our market stall.

Offsite garden maintenance

In addition to the horticultural training at Little Gate Farm, we also offer opportunities to train off site in private gardens.

This gives the trainees a chance to expand their knowledge to include tasks such as lawn care and the maintenance of hard landscaping.

Woodland enterprise

We are fortunate to have 20 acres of woodland as part of our training centre at Little Gate Farm. It’s classified as Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland, which means that it has been woodland since trees recolonised Britain after the last ice age (20,000 years ago). It is home to a variety of native tree species, rare ground flora and a wide range of wildlife.

Our trainees have the opportunity to learn woodland management skills and understand how the woodland can be used as a resource for social enterprise – making money in an environmentally friendly and beneficial way. You can purchase products from our woodland enterprise including charcoal and firewood.

Animal care

Our training centre is based at our headquarters – Little Gate Farm. It’s a working farm which is home to a variety of animals. Many of our trainees enjoy learning how to care for them.

As well as the educational opportunities, dealing with the animals day to day has great therapeutic value.

Market stall

We have a regular market stall in Hastings Old Town where we sell cut flowers from our farm.

Manning the stall gives our trainees a fantastic opportunity to experience many elements of working life, such as handling cash and dealing with customers. Plus they have the satisfaction of selling the produce they have grown.

Life skills workshops

Alongside our job-focussed training activities, every afternoon is set aside for our Life Skills Workshops.

These are designed to help our trainees prepare for working life and cover a wide range of topics such as:

  • Personal finance
  • Health
  • Managing anxiety in the workplace
  • Relationships
  • Using social media
  • Prejudices they might experience (for example, hate crimes)

The support is either provided by our in-house team or by external experts. We welcome any approaches from organisations who may be able to contribute by providing occasional training in appropriate subjects. Please contact us about opportunities to present to our trainees.

How you can help

Buy our produce

Cut flowers and woodland products from our social enterprise scheme.

Share your knowledge

Offer training for our Life Skills Workshops.

Fundraise for us

To support the Little Gate trainees.

Make a donation

£50 could provide a day’s training for one of our trainees.