The Leonard Cheshire ‘Can Do’ programme
Grant Speed, Managing Director of Odgers Interim, and Rebecca Brandwood, Consultant in the Odgers Interim Education and Healthcare Practices, discuss our recent partnership with Leonard Cheshire to support their ‘Can Do’ programme
We recently partnered with Leonard Cheshire to support their ‘Can Do’ programme. The programme focuses on skill development and confidence building for individuals aged 16-35 with a disability or long-term health condition. Through series of projects made up of fun and engaging events and workshops, ‘Can Do’ aims to raise aspirations and improve employability for young people with learning disabilities. For some, this can be a more formalised programme building up to a certification. Young people who complete the 16-hour Building Communities project, for example, can be awarded a City & Guilds certificate or an SQA personal achievement award which can further contribute to their employability.
As part of this programme, Odgers recently worked in partnership with Leonard Cheshire on several projects to support students with learning disabilities. One of these was to build confidence in employer networking. This involved a number of our colleagues at Odgers leading development sessions, such as a virtual Q&A and mock interview workshops, with young people. Throughout the one-day event, our colleagues provided them the opportunity to build communication skills and ask for career development advice.
The employer networking project is one we have previously hosted in person but due to Covid all sessions were led virtually this time. Although it was slightly different, we felt it was especially important this year to continue to support students in their development of employability skills. Before the disruption faced this year, disabled people at the age of 26 in the UK were four times more likely to be out of work or not in education compared to non-disabled people. Now, however, as the pandemic has greatly impacted face to face education, training and employment opportunities, there may be even greater underrepresentation.
Leonard Cheshire is an incredible charity and does outstanding work with disabled people to remove the barriers they face to live, learn and work as they choose. It has been a pleasure to work with Leonard Cheshire as our charity partner over the past 18 months and we aim to continue our fundraising efforts as well as participate in and support their future initiatives.
Commenting on the partnership, Stacey Lewis, 'Can Do' Project Coordinator at Leonard Cheshire, said: "Having Odgers supporting our projects has been fantastic. It’s a great way of meeting our 'Can Do' outcomes and likewise the schools' outcomes. It has been especially important in meeting the Gatsby benchmark as one of the criteria is enabling students to have contact with the world of employers which can prove difficult for SEND schools. Visiting the office in Birmingham has allowed young people with disabilities to be more engaged in their communities and feel less isolated and marginalised."
We received feedback from a few of the students involved in the project. One told us, "my 'Can Do' experience was really interesting and cool to do. I learnt many skills and qualities as well as work ideas and how to be a better person. I had lots of fun!”
For us, and our fellow colleagues, supporting the ‘Can Do’ programme was extremely rewarding. We were delighted to have the opportunity to use our skills and knowledge as experienced recruiters to contribute to the impactful work the charity delivers. We were really impressed by the enthusiasm of the students we worked with and hope the project provided them with further confidence in their skills and abilities in seeking employment and learning opportunities. We wish them all the very best for the future.
You can find more information about the ‘Can Do’ programme on the Leonard Cheshire website here.