A Prior’s Court young person is beginning his second full week of paid employment with us, marking a major milestone both for him and the organisation.

Young person Toby, who like all young people at Prior’s Court has complex autism, joined our staffing team working within the Housekeeping department on Tuesday, 1 March.

Individuals with autism face huge challenges in entering the workforce, with the latest statistics suggesting only one in five are employed – the highest rate of unemployment of all disabled groups.

A genuine vacancy being filled

Toby is working two four hour shifts per week, under the supervision of Carmel Haye, a Job Coach in our Housekeeping programme of vocational learning.

Like all staff members within the Housekeeping team, Toby reports to a line manager, Debbie Bradshaw, who will conduct review meetings with him. Toby is primarily responsible for housekeeping of our on-site flat for parental visits, but will be working anywhere Debbie assigns him to.

To help Toby better understand the concept of his employment, an adapted job description and contract was created by Prior’s Court’s on-site speech and language therapy team, while discussions with his parents were had around his financial remuneration.

Nickie Dunphy, Prior’s Court Careers Lead/Job Coach Co-ordinator, said: “It is important to stress that Toby is filling a genuine vacancy. There is a skills gap here that Toby fills and we are not simply creating jobs for young people.

“This has been a real team effort to get this far. From Toby’s Job Coach Carmel and Tutor Nikki to the Speech and Language Therapy and Safeguarding teams and Toby’s residential home staff, all have pulled together to ensure we have built a new process to follow for all young people.

“I am so proud to be able to confirm it has worked and Toby is now working as part of Team Prior’s Court.”

Toby, who also completes a weekly housekeeping work placement at Douai Abbey near Woolhampton, is on a fixed term contractt, as he is due to transition from Prior’s Court this summer.

The parents' view

Toby’s parents, Emma and Adam, said: “We are very excited for Toby to be given the opportunity to demonstrate the life skills that he has been taught at Prior’s Court over a number of years, such as developing his speech and language. The staff have been amazing with him and his confidence has blossomed as a result.” 

Toby is the second Prior’s Court young person to gain employment at Prior’s Court, but the first within a new defined careers service with the aim to secure paid employment for young people at Prior’s Court and with third-party organisations.

Finding careers for our young people

Sue Piper, Prior’s Court Director of Young People’s Learning, said: “This is enormously exciting news for both Toby and for Prior’s Court. People with autism face the very real prospect of never having paid work and so miss out on the life opportunities and sense of self-worth employment can bring.

“We want our young people to secure employment with organisations in the local area, but it is important that we practice what we say and demonstrate how it can be done and so give confidence to potential employers about the skills of our young people.”

A guide to third party employers about what providing work experience, placements or paid work to your young people involves is available.

For more details about our careers service, contact Nickie Dunphy on 07720 212600 or [email protected].