On Wednesday 14th September, we launched Real Opportunities, a new pre-employment programme for autistic people and/or people with Learning Disabilities living in Hackney. The programme is funded by Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Hackney Council. Our partners are Volunteering Matters and Hackney Council for Voluntary Services (HCVS).

For over 20 years, PBHA has supported individuals with a learning disability into accommodation, training and employment activities. According to Mencap, 1 in 3 people with a learning disability take part in some form of employment or training, whilst only 6.6% are in paid employment. The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities tell us that 1% of the population have an autism spectrum condition and at PBHA, 10% of our tenants have a learning disability and/ or are on the autism spectrum.

Real Opportunities aims to support 50 autistic people/ and or people with Learning Difficulties to develop confidence, motivation and the skills to find work. Learners can have a work placement in retails atOutpost, our social enterprise shop or in Hospitality, at Kingsland Hub. They can take part in motivational activities, and improve their literacy, numeracy and ICT. The project will help people to develop social skills, make friends and receive the support they need to find employment.

“We believe that every individual has assets they bring, and we see our role is to help them discover and nurture them, developing them into skills which will help them to succeed in the wider world, particularly of work. We offer a welcoming and inclusive environment and one where we listen to individuals’ needs, views and feedback so they can influence how we work. We value their opinions.

Putting the individual at the centre of everything we do, celebrating their achievements and providing a flexible service focused on meeting needs is the key to our success. We believe that this approach alongside the creative arts promotes a sense of wellbeing and security through exploring our own creativity. Producing and developing our own pieces increases our sense of self-worth and esteem.”

Clare Norton, CEO, Peter Bedford Housing Association.

To find out about taking part in the programme either as a participant or volunteer please contact Anjum Ahmed.