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The day Swansea became the first Disability Confident city in the UK

“It is great news that Swansea will be the first Disability Confident city,” Alan Cairns


Steps Training were kindly invited to attend the Disability Confident event in Swansea recently, which was hosted by Julian John of Delsion HR. Although the day was insightful and inspiring, we were shocked to learn the following things:

  • There is a 32% employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people.
  • 42% of disabled people feel that the attitude of potential employers is the biggest barrier to getting into work.
  • Only 7% of students with a learning disability are likely to find payed employment.
  • The most disengaged people in the working environment are not women, racial minorities or the elderly, but the disabled.

Whether this issue derives from discrimination, misunderstanding, or from the practical and financial issues which could stem from hiring someone disabled, this is undeniably a problem which must be addressed and stopped.

Luckily, Delsion HR and many other companies are working to improve disability confidence and understanding in employers throughout Wales. Speakers at the conference included EmployAbility, The Clear Company, National Grid, FirstGroup Plc, Visualise Training and Consultancy, TREAT Trust Wales and Barclays Bank, all of whom are taking steps in the right direction with regards to securing employment for the disabled.

The Disability Confident event was held on the same day as the Independent Living Fund was terminated for new applicants in England and Wales. Despite the irony some activists saw in this, Welsh companies don’t need government support in order to hire based on ability, rather than disability. We saw definite progress at the conference, and heard some remarkable stories.
[learn_more caption=”Taurai Horton’s Story”] Taurai is an eloquent young man who took the stage with confidence during the conference. He spoke of his experiences living with a learning disability, which impacted on his education, physical development and social life. Throughout his schooling, Taurai was unable to do as much as his friends, and consequently wondered “What is wrong with me?” Seeing older friends with learning disabilities gain poor GCSEs and embark on courses they despised, Taurai hit sixth form with no aspiration whatsoever. In the weeks before Taurai was set to begin a course in gardening, the only option which had been made available to him, he was approached  and offered a work placement. Thriving during his time at National Grid, Taurai was offered a job, and has since gained much more than work. He sights the belief his mentors had in his ability as the cause of his determination to succeed. “I’ve grown in confidence and skill. All it took was for someone to believe in me. If you have opportunity to offer work to someone with a learning disability, take it. You will be the person that these young people will always remember. The person who gave them a chance.”[/learn_more]

By the end of the conference, we knew that:

  • 240,000 more disabled people are starting work this year.
  • Barclays Bank have doubled the number of disabled candidates from 5% to 10%.
  • Many companies across the UK are striving to be Disability Confident, whether through hiring disabled individuals or improving customer service.

We’re not there yet, but the Disability Confident Conference in Swansea was a solid step in the right direction.

If you or your organisation would like to become Disability Confident, take a look at the government website. Our course in Developing Effective Communication Skills may be of use in clearly and confidently communicating your intentions with staff and service users alike, while Safeguarding and Protection of Vulnerable Adults may be relevant to those working more closely with those living with disability.

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