New employer service hub aims to improve opportunities and experiences for disabled people

Devon County Council has unveiled a new employer support service which it will launch next year.

The “Be Ready” Employer Service Hub will support Purple Tuesday, an international call to action aiming to change the customer experience for disabled people.

The council is working in collaboration with Jobcentre Plus on the initiative as part of its commitment to improving employment and customer experience opportunities for disabled people.

The free service, which is due to start in February, will provide:

  • A call-back service to answer specific questions
  • An employer network to share knowledge and practical experience as well as an online resource about all aspects of disability and employment to help employers attract, recruit and retain people with a disability or long-term health condition
  • Training, either delivered on-site (for larger organisations), or as a group bringing together smaller businesses
  • An opportunity to join the Disability Confident scheme to improve business reputation.

A number of focus groups for employers are being held in the coming weeks, asking employers for their ideas and feedback on what they need to enable them to recruit and employ more people with a disability or long-term health condition.

A local workshops are planned for Exeter on Monday, December 2. It will be staged at Larkbeare House in Topsham Road from 9.30am to 11.30am.

You can find out how to take part at www.readydevon.org.uk

Diana Crump, CEO of South West disability charity Living Options Devon, said: “As a member of Devon County Council’s Equality Reference Group, Living Options Devon supports the council in improving access to our countryside and encouraging businesses to make simple steps to improve accessibility.

“Purple Tuesday is a timely reminder to local business that it is important to recognise the value of the purple pound and ensure facilities are available for disabled customers. By not offering accessible and inclusive services these local businesses are potentially missing out on good business.”

Living Options Devon is supporting its local shopping centre Princesshay, Exeter in going ‘purple’ today. Princesshay has produced a visual guide to the shopping centre and is hosting a stand with the charity to raise awareness and support stores in taking simple steps to improve accessibility.

The “Be Ready” Employer Service Hub builds on Devon’s ‘Ready When You Are’ campaign which encourages businesses to become “Disability Confident” – by considering employing people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health.

More than 140 businesses have signed up to the Disability Confident initiative since the campaign got under way last year.

Devon County Council is also raising awareness of the Diversity Guide for Disability which was launched earlier this year.

The guide provides information on how to make your service and environments as accessible as possible to disabled people – looking beyond better known considerations such as wheelchair access and hearing loops – and covering tips on making the environment friendly for neuro-diverse people (such as autistic people), people living with dementia, and understanding “hidden disabilities”.

For more information go to the Ready Devon website or follow @BeReadyHub

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