Global meetings procurement organisation HelmsBriscoe (HB) and its friends raised £23,000 for a major autism initiative at its third annual fundraising event held at London’s Renaissance St Pancras Hotel recently.
Fifty-four HB hotel partners rallied to support the HB Cares work experience project for young adults with autism, as recent statistics estimated the overall cost to the UK economy of autism at £32bn.
Only 15 per cent of adults with autism hold full-time paid employment and 66 per cent are unemployed, according to the National Autistic Society (NAS).
Paul McIntyre NAS attended the event at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel and said: “HelmsBriscoe’s pioneering employment programme is divided into three sections. Stage one lasts for six weeks where the client meets weekly with their employment support consultant and attends six workshops focusing on workplace skills, anxiety management, interview skills, etc.”
HB MD in Northern Europe Carole McKellar thanked the London hotels that have provided work placements for stage two of the project. “These placements allow young people to gain real-life experience of work and in return, hotels are finding a new pool of talent for recruitment,” she said.
The final stage of the programme features one-to-one supported job finding, including CV make-up and design, writing cover letters and the development of a job shortlist tailored to the clients’ skill sets and achievable aspirations.
With the support of the MPI Foundation, MPIF, Meeting Needs, MIMN, the Together Trust and The NAS, more than 18 young people have been chosen to receive employment training and introduced to the potential of a job in the meetings industry.
McKellar added: “We didn’t want to run this project for a year or two and move onto something else. We wanted to create a programme that had a long-term future and would introduce more young people to our industry”.
The proof of success comes from one of the unnamed young autistic individuals who took part in the programme. “It was a really enjoyable experience and the staff were very helpful with my anxiety difficulties. I worked with staff from all over the world and for the first time at work, truly felt part of a team.”
Caption: L-R: Shonali Rodrigues (Meeting Needs); Carole McKellar (HelmsBriscoe); Tony Fundaro (MPI Foundation); Paul McIntrye (National Autistic Society)
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