A Croydon Council team that helps get local people with disabilities into fulfilling jobs has received the top inspection rating from a national organisation.

The British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) has given its top Excellent rating to Croydon’s enablement and employment support service, which is part of the council’s Gateway division and provides impartial and confidential guidance and information to get jobseekers with disabilities into a job, training or work experience.

The Croydon Council team was judged Excellent with a 95.8% score after a two-day visit by BASE inspectors, who were told about how the service works closely with disabled people, their families, carers and employers to improve access to the jobs market.

The principles of supported employment involve assessing each disabled jobseeker’s personality, career aims and skills, matching them with jobs and employers, and then providing ongoing help once they are in work. The team also runs a weekly employment club, gives interview preparation tips to job applicants, carries out skills audits and offers employers free disability awareness training.

The supported employment team provides a holistic, person-centred approach and works with partners including the mental health charity Mind, specialist recruitment company Status Employment, council colleagues and private companies. The team has helped local jobseekers into work ranging from retail jobs and lifestyle coaching to developing educational children’s toys.

The team’s recent initiatives have included:

• The annual Reverse Jobs Fair, where dozens of employers looking to fill vacancies visit prospective employees with disabilities
• The council’s Supported Self-Employment Academy, which has helped around 15 entrepreneurs develop their ideas for a new business
• All About Me, a programme giving jobseekers with disabilities wanting a career in retail a month’s work experience as sales assistants in the Whitgift shopping centre
• #Iamanartist, an event where creative people with disabilities audition for work in the arts, including singers, dancers, musicians and photographers.

In November, the team won the innovation award at the BASE Practitioners awards ceremony, which recognises the country’s best schemes that boost disabled jobseekers’ prospects. Team member Nana Marfo has been nominated for several awards for his work supporting disabled people into work, including the Daily Mirror Pride of Britain awards and finishing runner-up in the 2018 National Diversity Awards in the category of Positive Role Model Award – Disability.

“People with disabilities make up a really important part of our communities and our local economy so it’s important that they have the opportunity to thrive in a job as well as boosting their independence. It’s great that this council service that supports these goals has been judged excellent.

“This rating underlines the great things our Gateway service does for local people, and I hope a wider pool of Croydon businesses will work with us to support even more people with disabilities into a fulfilling job.”

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services

For more information, visit the council website.