Six young people with learning disabilities have landed the opportunity to undertake 6 months paid work experience at a London council.

The initiative by Southwark Council, in partnership with disability support organisation the Camden Society, will give the young people work experience and an accredited qualification. They started in October 2012 and will stay on until March 2013.

One of the participants, Suzanne, has been working in the council’s Parent Partnership Service team and recently came runner up in the European Social Fund Awards for Outstanding Achiever. She said: “I think that working at Southwark Parent Partnership Service has made me more aware of my abilities as an administration assistant. I have done more things than I thought that I was capable of doing. It has given me the confidence to show that I am a capable and proficient worker and to do things that I had not done before.”

But the benefits of the project have been two-way. Parent Partnership manager, Sandra Gee, added: “The project has been really valuable, particularly because it’s made the rest of the team think about how we communicate with people, how some people have different learning styles. It’s also helped us think more about how we communicate with our audience and can make things more understandable.”

Denise Largin, chief executive of the Camden Society, said: "Opportunities such as these are invaluable for young people with learning disabilities who face many barriers in finding work. Traditional apprenticeships are not often accessible and employers can be reluctant to access the support available to employ someone with a disability.

“The 6 work placements provided by Southwark Council are providing the young people with valuable experience for their CVs, enabling them to develop their skills and self-confidence in the workplace and we hope will lead to permanent employment in the council or elsewhere."