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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 04:46 GMT 05:46 UK
Disabled work drive is launched
A task force has been launched to help people with mental health problems and learning difficulties to find work.

Remploy - a leading employer of people with disabilities - and two charities have united to set up pilot projects.

The pilot schemes will include training and mentoring programmes. If they prove to be successful, the projects will be rolled out across the country.

The initiative is part of a government drive to move one million people off Incapacity Benefit and into employment.

BBC labour affairs correspondent Stephen Cape said: "There are more than a million people across the UK with learning disabilities and mental health conditions who are on Incapacity Benefit and only 10% of them have been able to find jobs."

A significant number of people with learning difficulties or mental health disabilities are still disenfranchised from the workplace
Kate Nash
Radar

The group will meet for the first time next month to draw up programmes, including ways to help adults with moderate learning disabilities.

One idea that is likely to be tested is for workers to be appointed as a "buddy" to offer help and reassurance to people with a learning disability when they begin a new job.

Outlining the approach, Jo Williams, chief executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: "It can be something as simple as making sure they know where to get a cup of coffee and are aware of the layout of the building."

She added that the morale of all staff tended to be lifted after a person with a learning disability was hired.

Employers' goodwill

And Bob Warner, chief executive of Remploy - the country's largest provider of jobs for disabled people - said he was keen to see workers offered training on how to help colleagues with disabilities.

"There is a lot of goodwill among employers, but we feel that too many people have been excluded from everyday life for too long," he said.

"A significant number of people with learning difficulties or mental health disabilities are still disenfranchised from the workplace," added Kate Nash, Chief Executive of disability charity group Radar.




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