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Free Digital Skills and Community Journalism course for Yorkshire residents with learning disabilities as unemployment soars alongside digital exclusion

– Digital exclusion rife with the Pandemic exasperating issues as people now rely on digital technology more than ever before. But much of the online world simply “shut out” people with special needs. Yet a lot of people with neurodivergent minds and SEN aspire to work in digital. 

– Less than 6 percent of Adults with SEND are in employment in Yorkshire and women fare worse 

– A large proportion of disabled people are unemployed or economically inactive, the rate has risen from 45.9% to 47.7% last year with employers even less likely to take on disabled employees. 

– Statistically speaking, people are most likely to be excluded from digital spaces if they are living with a disability, experiencing poverty, facing language barriers or long-term health conditions; and in Leeds alone, tens of thousands of adults are offline or lack essential digital skills – with that number rising to 11.9 million people across the UK.

– A new course aims to empower digital entrepreneurs and content creators with Special Educational Needs to give them the voice, choice and skills to start their journey into a digital career. From a job in digital to starting their own blog or running a social media marketing business. Learning key digital skills are not only sought after tools for digital enterprises but for all organisations plus they are transferable. 

– The excision world of digital can open an abundance of opportunities but currently it’s exposing and reflecting barriers people with special needs face in society today. 

– Reduce digital exclusion and creating the content to cause change as we hear the voices of those ‘shut out’ by a lot of the online world through our Digitally Active Project. 

With soaring unemployment, digital exclusion and a lack of opportunities for those with special educational needs (SEN) following the Pandemic, a new course aims to “give hope” and up-skill people with an interest in digital.

“We want to look to the future rather than focus on the detrimental impact the Pandemic has had on already disadvantaged people.

“We hope to empower participants to start creating content, sharing stories and most of all to give people confidence,” said Julie a course organiser and co-founder of Digitally Active whose son is on the autism spectrum.

“Unless you want to do cooking or gardening there’s not a lot to choose from,” explains Julie Crossfield. 

Julie’s son is a keen sports blogger and social media marketeer so what was available pre-Pandemic wouldn’t have harnessed his skills in these areas. 

Julie and other parents have also witnessed that employers are now even more cautious to take on disabled employees, volunteers and provide work experience due to having to deal with the rising cost of living and the impact Covid continues to have on their business. 

“They worry they’ll have the time to show new employees and volunteers the skills needed to carry out jobs but that’s where we come in to ensure that all our trainees feel confident in what they can offer,” added Julie. 

 A huge part of training is the confidence building as it’s not always a “skills gap but a promotional lack” as many ‘disabled’ people don’t even get to the interview process or have the confidence to apply with a large proportion of disabled people unemployed or economically inactive,” said Sophie Mei Lan who delivers Community Journalism and Content Creation Training to communities through the project, CoActive Arts and Community Media CIC. 

The national unemployment rate of disabled people has risen from 45.9% to 47.7% last year with employers even less likely to take on disabled employees. 

As it’s such a big issue Digitally Active have joined up with Wakefield Charity CoActive Arts which brings together adults with learning disabilities and provides a space to belong for everyone. 

CoActive co-founder Jody Gabriel, said: “The social model of disability tells us that we have to change the environment to accommodate the person, while the medical model of disability would prefer to change or treat the person so that they fit in better with their environment. This digital skills and journalism course promises to do both. Make adjustments to the work place and give support so people with atypical cognition can thrive and navigate the situation, while at the same teaching skills so people can fit in and function in the digital world. It’s about playing to our strengths.”

CoActive and Digitally Active are piloting their first free digital skills course in order to train and empower budding digital entrepreneurs and content creators with Special Educational Needs to give them the voice, choice and skills to start their journey into a digital career. From a job in digital to starting their own blog or running a social media marketing business. 

“Learning key digital skills are not only sought after tools for digital enterprises but for all organisations because they are transferable. 

“I have witnessed from my community media work alongside people with impairments that by making necessary adaptations and forging a more inclusive environment, with the right processes and technologies, many people are able to work and actually have some much greater skills in specific areas,” added Sophie. 

The team behind the project which is funded by the UK’s Community Renewal Fund hope that this will grow into an enterprise on its own and connecting businesses with talented trainees to carry out a range of digital jobs. 

“In many incidences, people have lost the confidence to seek employment or they need support to even access the relevant opportunities online. So we hope to start to change the rhetoric around disabled people and their ‘lack of potential’, because not only are these humans missing out but the world is a much poorer place without their powerful voices.”

The 5-week training course for neurodivergent adults and/ or those with disabilities in a range of content creation, digital skills and communications which has been part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

To book, contact: Julie.crossfield@icloud.com or go to: https://www.yorkshirefamilies.co.uk/work-with-us-join-our-team/

The? UK Community Renewal Fund?is a UK Government programme for 2021/22. This aims to support people and communities most in need across the UK to pilot programmes and new approaches to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It invests in skills, community and place, local business, and supporting people into employment.?  For more information,

visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-community-renewal-fund- prospectus

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