Topic: Project SEARCH – Building resilience through employment for people with learning disabilities – Anne O’Bryan and Carmel McKeogh

Resources: You can download the slides and you can listen to a recording of the session:

Session Summary: One of the keys to emotional health and well being is the opportunity to contribute through meaningful and rewarding work. Work provides you with money, self esteem, friends, colleagues, networks and a sense of purpose and value.  Working helps build personal resilience, it helps create a resilient network of support and friendship and it helps you to be financially resilient. People with learning disabilities are one of the most disadvantaged groups in terms of access to work in the UK. Many people with learning disabilities and their families are given negative messages about their capacity for work from a very early age and hence they are denied something that most of us without a learning disability value enormously – the opportunity of paid work.

Project SEARCH is a unique programme that comes from Cincinnati in the US. It takes people in their last year of education and immerses them in a work setting. It ensures that there is no break for students between school and work, so that students do not become unemployed at any point, and are transitioned into the identity of a working person. Students are based in the workplace and as well as learning English and Maths they learn employability skills and go on work placements every day to prepare them for a real paid job. It has tremendous success rates and is something that is growing in popularity in the UK and Europe.

(Researchers at Brighton have been working on facilitators of employment for people who are often excluded from the labour market, so this project is very dear to our hearts.)

Biography: Carmel McKeogh is the Deputy Chief Executive of Blackpool Council and she has been in Blackpool since April 2009. As well as her responsibilities as Deputy Chief Executive Carmel and her team are responsible for providing the human resources and organisation development strategy, direction and support across the Council. She is also responsible for the Council’s ICT strategy and delivery, corporate communications and her team delivers corporate policy, corporate performance and engagement strategies to ensure the Council has a clear vision, strategy and policy framework that is well communicated to support the delivery of services to residents.

Anne O’Bryan has promoted full time paid employment for all people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions since 1979. She trained at the University of Oregon in techniques for working with people with profound learning disability and initiated two electronics assembly businesses providing paid employment. In the 1980s she was at the forefront of the development of individual supported employment.  Since 2010 Anne has led European Project SEARCH programme development.

Who might be most interested: Academics, teachers, clinicians, researchers, students, parents, young people, policy makers, commissioners, service providers, employers and anybody who might wish to host a Project SEARCH site.

More info: You might like to watch this recruitment trailer for students interested in applying to the Project SEARCH programme at the Winnipeg Electricity Board:

Or this longer documentary video about the original Project SEARCH programme at Cincinnatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center:

This session took place on Tuesday 27 October 2015 in Brighton.

The Resilience Forum is for ANYBODY (with a pulse!) involved with or interested in resilience research!

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