Richard takes a big step towards a fulfilling career | Remploy

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Published Tuesday, 17th March 2015

Richard from South London found success after an innovative work placement programme from Remploy.

Richard takes a big step towards a fulfilling career

An innovative work placement programme that gives young adults with learning disabilities valuable employment skills has won praise from Mark Harper, Minister for Disabled People, during a visit to a Remploy branch in Southwark today (11 February).

‘Steps into Work’, which is jointly run by Remploy, Transport for London and Barnet & Southgate College, combines placements in TfL’s workplace with classroom-based training and aims to raise career aspirations.

The programme proved a turning point for one student, Richard Cowdery, who told Mark Harper how Steps into Work had put him on track to a career with London Underground.

Richard, 25, from Sutton, south London struggled to find a permanent job after leaving school and felt employers were overlooking him because of his twin disabilities, Asperger Syndrome and cerebral palsy.

But Steps into Work enabled him to complete confidence-building work placements including one as a customer service assistant at London Underground’s bustling Victoria station.

“The knowledge I gained and the experience of a placement at such a busy station was amazing,” said Richard. “It really helped me grow as an individual.”

After completing the year-long programme, he successfully applied for a full-time post as a customer service assistant at Hammersmith Tube station. Now, almost nine months into his new career, Richard, said: “I’ve always had an interest in railways, particularly timetabling, so I consider myself very lucky to have a job that is also my hobby.”

Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper said: “Steps into Work is a great example of how employers like Transport for London can help disabled people into work with practical training and support.  

“We are committed to supporting disabled people into mainstream employment through Jobcentre Plus, and providing additional practical support through the Access to Work scheme. Thanks to these efforts, there are now more than three million disabled people in employment, up a quarter of a million on last year.”

Remploy, TfL and Barnet & Southgate College have been running Steps into Work since 2009 and in the first four years 23 out of 40 students who completed the programme went on to secure full-time employment.

Nick Brown, a Remploy employment advisor who supports Steps into Work students, said: “Steps into Work provides young learning disabled adults with an important opportunity to develop employability skills and raise career aspirations.

“Richard is a wonderful example of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication. When he started on the programme he lacked confidence and found it difficult to communicate. But Steps into Work and having a full-time job have transformed him.”

TfL Director of Human Resources, Tricia Riley, added: “Steps into Work is helping people with complex barriers to employment grow in confidence and develop new skills. The programme concentrates on what students can do rather than dwelling on what they can’t do.”


Picture caption: Richard Cowdery with Mark Harper, minister for disabled people

For further information and interview requests, please contact Remploy press office: 0300 456 8121

Notes to Editors:

  • In the last five years Remploy has found more than 80,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range of physical, sensory and mental disabilities and other disadvantages.
  • Remploy partners with more than 2,500 of the country’s biggest employers including Marks & Spencer, BT, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and the NHS
  • Remploy has an increasing focus on providing specialist disability employment services to people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities
  • It has a successful specialist service which supports ex-service personnel who have left the forces with disabilities or health conditions
  • It continues to invest in developing innovative approaches and services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and a vocational rehabilitation service
  • In July the Department for Work and Pensions launched a commercial process under which Remploy Employment Services would leave government ownership by March 2015
  • This creates an exciting opportunity for a partner or investor to help develop Remploy to its full potential, enabling it to support many more disabled people into work
  • The Government envisages that the commercial process will create a Joint Venture between a partner or investor and Remploy Employment Services staff operating as a social business in the private sector