36, has spent most of his life in specialist services. He attended
a special school from the age of four, moved to an independent
specialist college at 18 and then into residential care at 20. Ben
has a severe learning disability and epilepsy. He finds it
difficult to communicate and presents some behaviour that others
In 2007, Ben moved into a single occupancy bungalow as part of a
programme that enabled people to move from residential care to
their own tenanted accommodation. Through person-centred planning,
Ben demonstrated his happiness with his new living environment and
began to show a keen interest in finding paid work.
The people working with Ben started to think about how they could
re-structure his support package to help him gain paid employment.
The staff had a good knowledge of Ben's skills and preferences; he
preferred working on a one-to-one basis, avoiding crowds, and liked
to work outside on tasks involving lots of physical activity.
The employment service approached employers and found three who
were willing to 'job-carve' in order to create employment for Ben.
Support staff who already knew Ben well, helped induct him into
Ben has now been in paid employment since July 2010. His first job
was three hours a week. He then started his second job, working
three hours a week throughout August, and in September, began
working a 10 hour week. He is working as a gardener and his tasks
include mowing, weeding, planting and digging. He earns above the
minimum wage, and Linkage is now working with Ben to sort out his
finances with his new earned income and his benefit
For Ben, the impact on his life of moving into his bungalow and
into work has been incredibly significant. As a result of the
changes to his life, his challenging behaviour has reduced in
frequency, his epilepsy appears more controlled and his
relationship with others has improved. He appears happier, more
relaxed, more able and willing to communicate and more in charge of
Rex G. Richardson, Director of Care Services for Linkage
"Ben's success has led to a general reappraisal of the
expectations we hold for all the people for whom we provide
services. Opportunities in employment can be found for persons with
the most complex difficulties. We are delighted for Ben in having a
job, and proud of our relationship with his employers."
Ben's sister says: "The progress he has made has been quite
remarkable. Moving into his one bedroom bungalow has built his
self-esteem beyond recognition. Now he has moved into paid
employment with support from the staff. You can see how proud he is
of this achievement and a spinoff is that his challenging behaviour
has reduced. I believe he is much happier and fulfilled."
This story is an extract from "Getting a Job, getting a life
and getting it right: Six ways to support young disabled people
into work" by Nicola Gitsham, Helen Sanderson and Linda Jordan
with Jaimee Lewis and Freya El Baz, 2011.
The story was developed by Ben's staff team and SHIEC
(Sustainable Hub of Innovative Employment for people with Complex
needs). Read more about SHIEC.