disabled child imageOver a hundred disabled youngsters in London are set to benefit from work experience and volunteering placements thanks to an innovative new scheme launched by disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

The new project, titled ‘Changing Futures’ is being funded by the international investment company 3i and will be recruiting from schools and colleges across London.

Leonard Cheshire CEO Ruth Owen OBE said: “The Changing Futures programme will make a huge impact to young disabled people in London, at a time when schemes like this are needed more than ever.

“Our charity found 71 per cent of disabled people who were employed in March 2020 had their employment impacted in some way by the pandemic: such as being furloughed, losing income, feeling at risk of redundancy, or losing their jobs.

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“Changing Futures is an important step in supporting young disabled people during the post-Covid recovery. We are extremely grateful to 3i for funding this.”

Changing Futures will give 18 to 24-year-olds work experience in an area suited to their interests and aspirations. The scheme also provides one to one support for employment advisors and access to a variety of interactive modules to develop skills and confidence.

Leonard Cheshire’s training and consultancy team will work with employers to make sure their organisation is inclusive and has the right tools to support Changing Futures’ participants.

In May 2020, 3i set up a £5 million Covid-19 charitable fund, with the aim of supporting charities and communities affected by the pandemic. The investment firm is giving Leonard Cheshire £190,000 to deliver the new programme for 150 young disabled people.

Kathryn van der Kroft, 3i Communications Director, commented: “Our Covid-19 Charitable Fund was set up to help alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

“We are delighted to support Leonard Cheshire and the important work they will be doing in London to provide young disabled people with volunteering and employment support and opportunities as we come out of the Covid crisis.”

The charity has previously achieved success with its project Changing Futures Wales, where 188 adults and 106 young people were supported in improving their career prospects.

Most recently, the charity was given a £3 million donation from the Covid-19 Support Fund to help give people with disabilities the opportunity to develop new skills and lead change in their communities.

Ruth Owen said that the donation would enable the charity to continue funding its ‘Can Do’, a community programme set up to deliver core outcomes of confidence building and skills development.

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