MoveForward is a programme of ThinkForward, supported by the DFN Foundation. MoveForward works in London, Kent and the West Midlands with young people who have mild to moderate learning disabilities with the aim of supporting them into sustainable paid employment. These young people face massive challenges around getting into the workplace. Just 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work, according to the government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (now NHS Digital) in 2015.
The MoveForward programme began as a pilot in Islington, London and Kent in 2017. Following the success of the pilot, the programme has received funding through a Social Impact Bond from the government’s Life Chances Fund, and also expanded into the West Midlands in 2018.
Three MoveForward coaches work with up to 15 students in each location across two to three schools/colleges. Through one-to-one coaching and group work sessions, coaches support young people to develop essential life skills, become more independent and take part in a range of different exposures to the workplace.
The programme has a long-term approach. Young people are enrolled in school Year 11 and can stay on the programme through to their early twenties. This ensures they are fully supported during the key transition from education into employment, and crucially through the early stages of their working life.
The consistent presence of a skilled coach is complimented by an education and employment coordinator who links students with relevant employers to provide work insight days and work experience opportunities. The coordinator also supports employers to tailor their offer to the needs of the young people.
In addition, MoveForward has partnered with Project Search to offer some students one-year supported internships. A large local employer takes on a number of young people and provides them with the opportunity to rotate around different departments, gaining valuable learning and experience of how to do a job within the workplace.
The programme also provides additional training and support for school staff around delivering employability skills to students. In 2018, 135 young people were supported by a MoveForward coach.