A unique UK charity is celebrating its first anniversary with an impressive year of firsts in its mission to help those with long-term health conditions find work.

Astriid is a free online job matchmaking service that connects talented people living with any long-term illness with businesses who need skilled volunteers or staff.

Its haul of year one milestones include:

  • Being the first organisation of its kind in the world – committed to tackling the skills gap with the ‘invisible talent pool’ of chronically ill professionals
  • Winning its first national accolade to become Recruiter Magazine’s Charity of the Year 2018
  • Registering its first 500 candidates
  • Raising its first £50,000
  • Recruiting its first 50 volunteers
  • Registering its first 200 businesses
  • The creation of 93 flexible roles, thanks to the companies who have registered with Astriid

Founded by David Shutts OBE, the charity allows businesses to tap into the ‘invisible talent pool’. David set up Astriid after being diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 renal cancer in 2015.

A former Royal Navy Commander, David’s diagnosis was life-changing and an experience that made him aware of how much work offers in terms of self-worth, self-esteem and social interaction – much more than financial reward.  

David realised millions of others must feel like himself – cast aside because of illness, yet with valuable experience to share and so Astriid was born.

The roles available span every sector from transport to technology, not-for-profit, HR and more across businesses of all sizes. With an incredibly varied selection of jobs available, vacancies range from administrators, IT support and financial advisors to marketing consultants, legal advisors and general management operatives.

Peter Buckley, from Loggerheads in Shropshire, was the first person to gain meaningful employment through the ground-breaking charity after a five-year battle with cancer left him ‘invisible’ within the job market.

The former teacher explained: “Before this, every decision was shadowed by ‘what if I’m not here in three months?’, constantly worrying about who and what I would leave behind.  

“Thanks to Astriid and being able to work flexibly, my mindset has changed to wanting to succeed. Even my wife commented, ‘I seem to have my husband back again’ and puts it down to what Astriid has facilitated for me – not just work, but a new lease of life.”

Steve Shutts, brother of David Shutts and Chairman at Astriid said: “As the first person to be successfully matched with a business through Astriid, Peter has truly demonstrated how important my brother’s legacy is.  

“As David attested, Peter has shown that the sense of self-achievement that only work can provide, really is the best medicine.  Having meaningful work is a great distraction from whatever disease you may be fighting and helps maintain a positive mental attitude.  

“Astriid is about giving people in this situation a sense of hope that their talent isn’t wasted and that they can continue to make valuable contributions to society.”

With the support of the CBI – the UK’s premier business organisation and the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, Jimmy Mcloughlin, backing the charity and its mission, Astriid says its job seekers can provide much-needed solutions at a time of UK-wide skill shortages.

Steve added: “As a charity, Astriid encourages people to think about their knowledge  differently by using their existing experience to try something new, just as Peter has.  We don’t pigeon-hole our members. As such, they have a chance to find a satisfying job in an area that’s personally rewarding, start a second career or even share their years of experience in a voluntary capacity, as an expert consultant.”

For further information on Astriid, to sign up as a partner, become a member, advertise a position or donate, visit: www.astriid.org.uk/. To stay updated on social media, join the conversation using #InvisibleTalentPool via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

About Astriid:

  • Astriid (Available Skills for Training, Refreshing, Improvement, Innovation and Development) is a unique UK charity with the mission to provide meaningful work for people with long-term health problems and their carers.
  • Founded by David Shutts OBE the charity’s online matchmaking services allows businesses to tap into the ‘invisible talent pool’ – highly-skilled people affected by chronic illness, who have dipped under the employment radar with the potential to bridge the UK skills gap. For a long time, this community of people has been invisible to employers, and employers invisible to them. Astriid aims to make the invisible visible.
  • Astriid became a registered charity in January 2018. Registered Charity No.  1176645.
  • For more information, to register or donate, visit www.astriid.org.uk

More about David Shutts OBE:

Beginning his career as a Ministry of Defence apprentice before joining the Royal Navy in 1985, David Shutts OBE climbed the ranks culminating with a promotion to Commander in 2004. As a senior naval officer at the helm of the fleet’s most technologically-advanced warship at the time, David was awarded an OBE for leadership. At 45, he took a new challenge as vice president of global sales for a maritime logistics company, before moving into the role of regional director at a business organisation in 2014.

A year later, 10 days after turning 50, David’s life changed direction with a diagnosis of inoperable stage four advanced renal cancer – an experience that made him aware of how much work offers in terms of self-worth, self-esteem and interaction – much more than financial reward.  

David realised millions of others must feel like himself – cast aside because of a diagnosis, yet with valuable skills to share. His treatment and experience provided the inspiration to help people with long-term health issues find meaningful employment, while offering businesses the chance to benefit from their unique experiences. David continued to campaign for the ‘invisible talent pool’ until he died in May 2018.