Yorkshire Water and Lighthouse join forces in Autism Awareness Week

Yorkshire Water and Lighthouse Futures Trust in Leeds have joined forces to try and improve a shocking statistic.

According to a Mencap study in 2017, just 6% of adults with learning disabilities in England are currently in paid employment. In a bid to challenge this, the two organisations have just combined to produce on a disability internship programme for students with an Autistic Spectrum Condition.

Lighthouse Futures Trust is a charity which creates employment opportunities for young people with autistic spectrum disorder and learning disability and works with students from Lighthouse School, Shipley College and other schools in the city. It is Yorkshire’s first special free school, with the backing of the Department of Education.

Now, in Autism Awareness Week, Yorkshire Water is thrilled to say that it has four new students which have joined its ranks on a year-long internship.

The students are working in various parts of the business including; waste water, sustainability and service delivery and each have a job coach from the school to support them.

The four will be working towards gaining GCSE’s and A Levels and both organisations are hopeful the placements will build the students’ confidence, skills and give them a greater chance of paid employment in the future.

This is the second year in a row the organisations have worked together, with five of the students who were part of last year’s programme in employment with Yorkshire Water.

Yorkshire Water’s Head of talent, Becky McDonnell said: “We are thrilled to once again work with Lighthouse Futures and help challenge the stigma attached to those who have an autistic spectrum condition.

“We have an inclusive culture at Yorkshire Water and are looking forward to having the students on board and following in the footsteps of last year’s successful placements.”

Kerry Hazlewood, one of the job coaches supporting the students said: “Our interns are enthusiastic and inspiring young people. Traditionally, young people with additional needs struggle to find employment so it’s great to see this programme addressing the issue and breaking down the barriers.

“When we first started working with Yorkshire Water in 2016, we had no idea what a wonderful success the programme would be and that it would lead to employment for our cohort. It’s so encouraging to see so many new areas of the business enthusiastically engaging in the programme.

“The job coach team are pleased to be working with Yorkshire Water once again to transform lives and raise aspirations."