Bristol firms to be given help in getting more disabled people into their workforce

September 30, 2021

A programme designed to break down barriers and support more disabled people into work is being launched in Bristol and across the West of England.

Some 100 businesses will receive tailored, targeted disability inclusion training to help them create a more diverse workforce.  

The project, part of the Workforce for the Future programme, is being run by leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

Called Inclusion, Disability, Equality, Action (IDEA), the scheme is among a series aiming to ensure the region’s workforce more accurately reflects its community.

The most recent statistics available in the region are from the 2011 census which revealed that, in Bristol for example, 75.4% of disabled people aged 16 and over were economically inactive. This compared to a quarter (24.9%) of their non-disabled counterparts.

Over the next 18 months Leonard Cheshire will work with local small and medium-sized businesses to help them increase their knowledge and understanding of disability, provide training, workshops and resources and support them to proactively employ disabled people.

Leonard Cheshire CEO Ruth Owen said: “There are over 7.7m people of working age in the UK who are disabled or have a long-term condition, which equates to approximately 125,000 people in the West of England.

“Encouraging applications from disabled people is good for business, not only because it increases the number of talented applicants available, but because it also creates a workforce that reflects the diverse range of customers a business serves, and the community in which it is based.”

West of England Mayor Dan Norris, who leads WECA, added: “I want disabled people in the West of England to have the right opportunities to get into employment.

“Work can be enjoyable, energising, and a boost to self-esteem. This programme is a step in the right direction and I look forward to hearing first-hand from disabled people about its impact.”

IDEA will collaborate with a cross section of business networks, employment specialists and higher education groups in the region, including Workforce for the Future partners, Business West, Western Training Provider Network (WTPN) and UWE Bristol, to build the capacity and inclusivity of its delivery.

Applications are now open. Eligible businesses will be based in the Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire council areas and be classified as a small or medium sized enterprise (SME) with between five and 250 employees.

To find out more or apply, visit the Workforce for the Future webpage or contact

Workforce for the Future is an £8m programme co-funded by WECA and the European Social Fund (ESF) that works with SMEs to help them develop their future workforce to meet their current and future needs.

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