Preseli Pembrokeshire MP and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Stephen Crabb, kicked started a new conversation on how best to support more disabled people into work by visiting a leading disabled employer in his constituency on Friday (6th May.
Stephen spent time with Pembrokeshire Frame, a local social enterprise with years of experience providing work for people with all abilities from its three bases across Pembrokeshire. There he discussed the importance of challenging attitudes in society that have stopped disabled people from moving into work for decades. He reiterated his commitment to engaging with national disabled charities and other grassroots organisations across the UK in the coming months, to tackle the gap in the employment rate between disabled and non-disabled people.
Speaking to Frame Chief Executive, Jenny Sims, Stephen welcomed the expertise of grassroots organisations in achieving meaningful work and outcomes for disabled people.
Speaking from Pembrokeshire Frame, Stephen said,
“Pembrokeshire has a proud track record of supporting disabled people in work. County Sports, Pembrokeshire Frame, Norman Industries are just some examples of Pembrokeshire businesses that are helping disabled people move into solid and secure jobs."
“Of course, it is absolutely right that we support those who are unable to work. However, there are a number of disabled people who can and would like to work, and the next big challenge we face is closing the disability employment gap and getting these people into jobs.”
“I vowed to start a new conversation on these issues. I am meeting with grassroots organisations, and starting this conversation here in my own constituency.”
Following his visit, Frame Chief Executive said,
“I’m really pleased that Stephen is taking time to speak to organisations like ours across the UK. He has a real opportunity to make a difference to the lives of disabled people.”
“It is important that he has access to first-hand information and opinions from those people working with disabled people which I am sure will help him make the right decisions.”
“From my own personal experience, we have had some real successes here at Pembrokeshire Frame. We have seen lives get turned around through people having a positive and supportive work environment. Stephen is right that more needs to be done to help reach out and encourage more disabled people into work.
He also visited Haverfordwest Jobcentre in Quay Street for the first time as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, meeting with work coaches, managers, job seekers and employers to understand the work being undertaken locally to help secure job opportunities in the county against a backdrop of falling unemployment levels.
He also visited High Street’s Arts Hub, The VC Gallery, to meet with Barry John MBE whose unique approach to supporting both veterans and the community has gone from strength to strength. Stephen was interested to hear about the results that Barry has achieved in supporting those with social isolation, mental health and physical disabilities through art therapy, which has resulted in many successful job placements at the end of the programme.
The message from Stephen’s Friday visits in Pembrokeshire is loud and clear – he knows that there is more work to be done to ensure the opportunities of work are available to everyone. He knows that those barriers need to be understood and broken down - and that important work has just begun.