A JOBS summit with a difference is taking place in South Tyneside this week.
The event is aiming to break down barriers for people with learning disabilities, and encourage more employers to welcome them into the workplace.
Organised by Your Voice Counts – a charity supporting adults with learning disabilities – the summit is at 10am on Friday at The Dunes, and is being run on behalf of the Learning Disabilities Partnership Board.
The summit aims to find out more about how people with learning disabilities feel about work, what the barriers are to finding it and how local employers can be supported to encourage them to provide employment opportunities for people with a learning disability.
A number of large and small businesses, as well as the emergency services and local community groups and charities are taking part in the event.
According to the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, only seven per cent of people with learning disabilities have a job while 65 per cent want to work.
Coun Mary Butler, lead member for adult social care and support services at South Tyneside Council, said: “This important event will provide us with a snapshot of the situation in South Tyneside.
“This will allow us to progress practical measures to help more people with learning disabilities to enter the local labour market.”
One person with learning disabilities who works in South Tyneside is admin and clerical assistant Andrew McWhirter, who has been employed by South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust for almost five years.
His head of service, Tracey Peters, said: “Andrew brings a very different perspective to the working environment.
“He is very polite and pleasant and a number of people from outside the organisation have e-mailed us with verbal compliments about how great it is to be greeted by such a pleasant and welcoming young man.”
Andrew, 29, added: “I have had the honour of working alongside some great colleagues and feel privileged to be able to carry out the tasks I have been given.
“My colleagues have inspired me over the last five years. Tracey has really helped me to fit in. I can never truly repay her for her kindness and friendship.”
Anyone wishing to book a place at the event can contact Carole or Joanne at Your Voice Counts on 340 4173 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org