We have had funding from:
Would you like to work with us at IWR ? Find out more here for Buckinghamshire free places as part of a pilot as we develop IWR online click here! Independent and Work Ready has some National Lottery Community funding for our virtual work placements.
Independent and Work Ready CIC was set up in June 2019 by Karen Yates who has Cerebral Palsy and Dyslexia, the work has grown from an online information disability site for preparing and navigating adult life to a virtual online supported employment opportunity and online supportive creative community offering flexible but structured work skills and online support services open to all.
We have been able to develop by making the Independent and Work Ready website much more interactive and creative, we have been able to include a Social Retail Tech hub on the website. This offers a creative space and online gallery for participants creativity such as artwork and articles. We had added new website areas that all showcase participants work, build up our members area and the wide range of members materials and projects, invested in professional equipment like different types of printers and heat presses, we have taught ourselves to use, been able to offer a product design virtual support service and extend the products we can design with participants by learning to do and demonstrate our own printing. We have therefore greatly extended the project options and the products for sale on our online shop. With NSNU funding we were able to offer mental health wellbeing focused journal design sessions to participants to showcase their creativity and work skills designing journals using art and or photography.
IWR this year has worked with individual participants and large groups of participants who typically have SEND/Disability or chronic health issues. This has included students from local Buckinghamshire SEND schools, local Buckinghamshire individuals with disabilities/health issues such as mental health issues, participants who were previously NEET, students from a London college, had 256 students from a large range of different SEND and Pupil Referral units in the Birmingham region working with us developing products on different work briefs. Being online has provided participants with a safe, adaptable, creative environment to build confidence using supported materials so opens the workplace to participants that would struggle in traditional settings such as due to social communication, health/disability needs and is COVID safe option. Our structured supported work experience meets Gatsby standards as meaningful purposeful work and enterprise for those on work experience.
When working with school students IWR offers virtual structured adaptable work experience with support covering product design, marketing and website contributions. The focus of IWR is work and life skills, showcasing abilities, strategies and peer lead learning for life and work.
IWR is lived disability lead and offers creative placements for skills development and the building of confidence. IWR offers when needed adaptable work briefs, communication cards, structured projects such as designing products like bags, clothing, kitchenware or stationery, or participant own product ideas and prints participant designs using a wide range of print approaches and product options that are demonstrated to participants. IWR has invested in different printing methods equipment and blank printable product options particularly sublimation printers, a laser engraving machine and digital heat transfer printer, heat presses and participants learn all these methods. The focus in inclusion and learning from each other. IWR shows participant’s the steps involved in product design, using professional design software, learn about marketing and business skills such as via Zoom or Teams online sessions and many online IWR own members resources such as art project activities and animated explainer videos. IWR has an online shop to showcase designs on different affordable practical products via the website. IWR meets with individuals 1;1 but also meets with groups online as per participant needs.
Our London college work has involved level 1 traineeship students who have tested our resources for other participants while on work experience, tested software for us, developed our website with film reviews and other articles and artwork, done life skill videos for us, helped us make art resources like how to draws to help others and tested out different product design ideas.
Typically, participants come to us from schools, colleges or sometimes as a stepping stone post school referred from the school or Job centre for example. Sometimes we work with small or large groups like whole school classes or groups of schools on a joint project, sometimes we also work with a family member supporting the individual or a care worker. We can also work with individuals who complete placements more independently to learn work skills and about the design process so they could print partner with us independently and get more work ready. We have worked with all ability levels. We have worked with different education settings but participants do not need to come from education to access us.
Also, the IWR site provides not just information and signposting to topics but a voice for those with lived experience to share experiences to help others and show strategies and how to overcome obstacles as well as show creativity and abilities to encourage independence, an active life the way they want and work skills for all. This to help with other accessing opportunities and changing society attitudes and preconceptions of what is possible for those with a wide-ranging disability. Topics covered are in picture categories for easier navigation and covering a huge range of useful often not covered topics such as disability and work, health, housing, money management, education, benefits, interests, hobbies sport, relationships to topics like being a parent with a disability. All topics in one place.
IWR also helps with everyday work, life, IT and literacy, numeracy skills. IWR offers structured sessions, mentoring and support with basic work skills. The website (www.independentandworkready.co.uk) offers a creative space. Participants contribute to the website in a way that for them such as with their original artwork, articles, creative stories, poems, life skill demonstration videos, personal insights on topics or product design. They join an online community with a member’s area that builds their creativity, confidence and work skills. The website showcases participants abilities, aspirations, skills, hobbies and interests and reflects what interests individual participants and offers an online safe community. Everyone can access the adult life information topics that have been researched using trusted information like from the NHS or UK government or charities and take part for free in community creative competition such as this year’s ‘Mythical creature competition’. IWR works with many participants who would struggle currently in traditional workplaces but works with a wide range of backgrounds in a way tailored for them and focused on peer lead support. Local artists and businesses have also contributed to IWR to help participants learn creative and work skills.
Here are just a few of the many notebook examples we will have for sale soon:
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