Autism charity boss urges charity sector Kickstart support

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The CEO of Daisy Chain, one of the largest charities and social enterprises in the Tees region, has welcomed the government’s Kickstart Scheme for young people without a job and urged other local charities to come together to form a ‘kickstarter cluster’ to enable around 30 local youngsters to work in the third sector.

Neeraj Sharma is also encouraging larger employers who are considering taking on 30 or more individuals, to allocate at least one of those placements for a candidate with learning difficulties. The charity can offer support and training to employers to assist them in becoming more autism aware.

The Kickstart Scheme enables employers to create six-month job placements for young people who are currently on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Participating employers will receive 100 per cent of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

Applications for the scheme must be for a minimum of 30 placements, which can be for one single organisation or clustering with other charities, which would enable smaller organisations to take part in the scheme.

Neeraj said: “The Kickstart Scheme is a fantastic way to offer a work placement to someone who may not previously have had access to employment opportunities.

“The clustering concept is ideal for smaller businesses or charities like ours which want to get involved but are only able to offer a small number of placements. By coming together as a sector, this opens up new opportunities to young people on Teesside, and as a charity, our focus is of course those living with autism. The programme takes up to a month to approve applications and will be fully live in November, so there is time for other organisations to consider the idea.

“Larger employers who have the capability of offering a minimum of 30 placements must also consider applicants with neurological disorders such as autism. A significant number of adults living with autism are at risk of long-term unemployment.  Although they may be more than capable of fulfilling a position, often people with autism present differently at interviews and employers need to look beyond the condition to the talented individual. Daisy Chain is in a position to help employers using the Kickstart Scheme by training them how to properly support people with autism. The results can be wonderful and productive for everyone involved.

“As responsible employers in Teesside, we must support both neuro-typical and young people with conditions such as autism in gaining vital work experience and this scheme is a fantastic way to do so.”

To find out more about the government’s Kickstart Scheme, you can visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-apply-for-a-grant-through-the-kickstart-scheme.