“The whole experience has really opened my eyes to the stigma in our society about employing candidates that consider themselves to have a disability,” said Graeme Bright, Building & Facilities Manager at Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Theatre Royal Stratford East came to Groundwork London recently, looking to fill a position through ACE (Able, Capable, Employed). ACE is a £5.5-million, London-wide project that aims to support 1,000 Londoners with disabilities and long-term health conditions into sustainable employment.
Led by Groundwork London, 11 organisations work together to deliver the project across London, helping employers identify and adapt vacancies, and finding capable, prepared and well-suited candidates that will make the most of and succeed in these roles.
“ACE seemed to us a really innovative project, as well as an important way to reach suitable candidates who might not otherwise have considered applying. We were so happy with how the project works that we ended up offering two vacancies,” said Graeme, who now supervises two ACE participants employed at the theatre.
“I cannot recommend the project highly enough to other organisations who are struggling with their recruitment needs or are keen to have a more diverse workforce. The subsidy and the in-work support mean it is a no-risk way of seeing if someone new can benefit your business. We had all the support we needed to ensure that we had the right staff.
“After meeting Jim* and Antonio*, I immediately felt both would be good candidates to work in my team. In the initial week, we really needed to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Once we identified these, we looked at playing to their strengths to help develop their confidence.
“There are some great candidates out there who can prove to be a real asset to your business, as these two have demonstrated.”
ACE also provides tailored, specialist support to those looking for employment, helping them prepare for work, matching them with job opportunities, and providing support to ensure they thrive in their new workplaces.
Jim*, for example, came to ACE not having worked for two years. His ACE advisor helped him with some related problems he was facing, that held him back from getting and staying in work.
She encouraged him to apply for positions like the one with Theatre Royal Stratford, which he says he would not have considered without her support.
Jim* said: “Getting the job at the Theatre Royal Stratford has enabled me to buy Christmas and birthday presents for my young son for the first time in years! This has been really transformative for me – I have a sense of pride that was not there before”.
*not their real names
Contact Groundwork London’s ACE team to find out how we can help you: call 020 7922 1230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ACE is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. The project is part of the Building Better Opportunities programme, which aims to tackle poverty and promote social inclusion across England.
ACE is led by Groundwork London in partnership with: Business in The Community, HCT Group, Genesis Housing Association, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Mencap, Peter Bedford Housing Association, Balance, The London Borough of Islington, and The Tower Project.