Following a news item on 24 October about Disability Action Alliance member Disability Dynamics’ conference; The Added Value of Partnership Working, we thought you may like to know how the conference went.
Over 100 people attended, representing the wide range of public, private and third sector organisations that collectively deliver holistic, specialised and personal employed-related support to the residents of Bolsover District and Chesterfield Borough. The conference marked the culmination of the Help to Work Plus project which tested partnership working through direct delivery of support to local disabled people as part of the EU PARES initiative.
Councillor Eion Watts (Leader of Bolsover District Council and Chairman of the Industrial Communities Alliance) opened the session with his very personal and straightforward approach to the challenges facing people with long-term health conditions and disabilities when trying to get back to work. His leadership and personal commitment is vital to making improvements.
John Coxon from the Government’s Office for Disability Issues explained how he is implementing Government strategy to fulfil the potential of disabled people. He also gave the first public viewing of the newly launched ‘Disability Confident’ video aimed at employers and now available on You Tube.
Help to Work Plus project Manager Alison Corbett of Shaw Trust described the success of that project in engaging nearly 200 local disabled residents and succeeding in placing nearly 50 in to work. A number of clients attended the conference to celebrate their own successes, as shown in a special video commissioned for the event. Their personal stories and the difference in their lives was hugely moving and inspiring.
There were many other very stimulating agenda items including;
- Steps to Success – the partnership approach to how clients can progress to work, a simple visual image of the holistic support they may need
- The Flexicurity paper describes how clients can sustain work and increase their employability in the face of future life-changing situations such as redundancy, onset of ill-health and more
- Malen Davies of Inclusion summarised the external evaluation of the project and highlighted how well it reflects many of the elements of the EU PARES initiative
- Ruth Reagan demonstrated how the partnership activities and approach has closely echoed the Merlin standard used by the Department of Work and Pensions throughout the Work Programme and other contracts.
- Eamon Davern, Head of Public Employment Services team, gave further insight in to how the partnership and project links with the EU PARES initiative: strengthening partnerships between public and private/third sector employment support providers.
Throughout the day, delegates contributed their own knowledge and experience during a series of group discussions and over 300 individual comment sheets have been collated in to just six pages with some key themes highlighted;
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of partnership working from the client’s perspective
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of partnership working from the partner’s perspective
- Political, economic, social and technological factors of partnership working.
You can find out more about Help to Work and see all the presentations, slides and videos at the Help to Work website here Conference 2013.