What we do:
We provide training and support to help autistic people to become self employed. Working together we get to understand the talents, skills and ambitions of each person and match them with a potential business idea. Sometimes people contact us because they already have a business idea in mind and are not sure how to get started. Sometimes people contact us because they would like to set up some kind of enterprise with other people. Whatever the situation our job is to bring in a business support worker to work alongside the autistic person for up to 12 months usually.
We always seek independent welfare benefits advice to make sure the individual does not jeopardize their welfare benefit entitlement during their business development phase. Examples of business we have supported are: Jenna Moore Art, Colin Potsig Photography, Sifu Geek Computer Repair and Support Services, Sylvan Skills and Hope’s Help @ Home.
All the businesses we help to launch are manageable and small scale, nothing too ambitious at the beginning and since spectrum enterprises is a support employment agency we can help people to generate a little income every week under the permitted support rules.
Sometimes the people who contact us already have a job however they are finding it hard to cope. On these occasions we can provide someone to come in to the office to help them to improve their performance.
Why do we do it:
We come in to contact with many people in the North East who have an autism diagnosis who are unemployed. This has been known for a long time, even the wall street journal said 85% of autistic people are unemployed. This is despite the fact that many people say they would like the work if the right support is available, sometimes though people who have fluctuating mental health conditions for example find it almost impossible to hold down a 9 to 5 job in an office. Self employment offers an viable alternative to working in somebody else’s organisation.
How do we do it:
We get to know each person and listen to their ideas about the business they would like to run which is achievable and manageable and together we write a business plan. We use the business plan to apply for an Access to Work grant. If our application is successful we bring in people who run their own businesses to work alongside the autistic entrepreneur. and together we work on the business plan and our business support worker teaches the person everything they need to know.