Opening Doors, a magazine originally released just before the pandemic hit, has been updated and re-launched to encourage employers in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) to think differently about recruiting people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). The publication lays out a sound business case for considering this group, from the plethora of organisations offering free support for employers, to the evidence around retention and loyalty often seen from those with SEND.
Opening Doors is written from an employer’s perspective by local community interest company Clean Slate, with the understanding that many employers may feel they do not know enough about working with those with SEND to make it viable. With expert input from Three Ways School, Leonard Cheshire and trailblazing employers like National Grid, the publication addresses common misconceptions and offers signposting for further support while also highlighting employers’ legal duties.
Lucy Beattie, Fundraising, Marketing and Development Manager, at Three Ways School explains the thinking behind launching the magazine: “We wanted to bring stakeholders together to see how we could inspire employers about the talent we have available in our SEND jobseekers. We see long-term, unfilled vacancies across the whole B&NES area and we have candidates who are just not being given a chance. We know it seems like a challenge but we can provide the back-up to both employers and their staff.”
Jeff Mitchell, Founder Director at Clean Slate, says: “Our message to employers is simple: If you’re screening out SEND jobseekers, you’re not only missing out on talent, you might also be in breach of the law. This guide is designed to inspire employers to think differently. Many solutions are straightforward and we’ve mapped out the steps in these pages.”
Opening Doors features case studies from people with SEND working in the wider B&NES area, as well hearing from their employers who explain their journey to date. Many employers are seeing tangible benefits such as freeing up expert staff, better reflecting their customer base and reduced absenteeism.
Opening Doors is available for free here.