A Leicester-based disability social enterprise that gives young, disabled students a “life-changing” introduction into the world of work has officially welcomed on board the Leicester Tigers Foundation as its latest partner.

Access Rating CIC conducts disability access audits for businesses to improve disabled visitors’ experiences of their sites. The funds raised from this are reinvested back into The Employment Hub, a life-changing work experience programme that takes place at SEND schools in Leicestershire.

The programme creates an office environment in the school to give students work experience on behalf of local businesses in an environment tailored to meet the pupils’ specific health and educational needs. The Employment Hub has been funded by Access Rating CIC and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership’s “We Discover” project, funded by The Careers & Enterprise Company.

This partnership with the Leicester Tigers Foundation is a result of the overwhelming success of the Employment Hub pilot scheme. It was held at Ash Field Academy in Leicester and tasked students with creating a disabled access guide for Leicester City Centre. 

This time around, students will be tasked with working for The Leicester Tigers Foundation as Fundraising Assistants – their brief is to help to plan a real-life fundraising event for the foundation.

The project will give them access to the Foundation’s media, HR and marketing teams, giving students an incredible opportunity to learn how each of these departments works in practice. They’ll learn a broad range of skills such as team building, research, content writing, project management and event management. 

Sam Johnston, Senior Inclusion Officer at the Leicester Tigers Foundation said “It’s a pleasure to be part of the Employment Hub project. Our ethos is to make opportunities as inclusive as possible, whether that’s in sport or the wider community. Breaking down barriers and providing solutions is very important but disabled people are often overlooked when it comes to employment.

Many of these young adults have lots of experience within their education already, which makes them very employable. However, boosting their confidence in these skills is essential. I hope that being part of the Employment Hub will help them understand their skills and the talents they can bring to the workplace in the future.”

Richard Copson, Co-Founder of Access Rating said “This is a very exciting time for us – after all the hard work by our team last year launching the Employment Hub, it is fantastic to be partnered with the Leicester Tigers Foundation.

They have recognised the value in our work and share our vision to take the project to the next level to support SEND school students to gain valuable work experience and employment opportunities.”

Disabled people find it disproportionally more difficult to get into employment compared to their able-bodied peers. According to a survey from the Papworth Trust, young people aged 16-18 were at least twice as likely as their non-disabled peers to not be in education, employment or training.  The survey also found that by the age of 26, disabled people are four times more likely to be out of work or not in education compared to non-disabled people.

Access Rating CIC was founded by disabled entrepreneurs Richard Copson, Mark Esho MBE and Jig Vaidya. As a group, they have dealt with poor accessibility for their entire lives and in 2020 they decided it was time to work together to create a positive solution for the disabled community.

Access Rating CIC is also running a pilot project at Birkett House SEND school in Countesthorpe with the aim to expand the Employment Hub to SEND schools all over the UK.

Find out more about Access Rating CIC.

Find out more about the Leicester Tigers Foundation.