Source: Hull Daily Mail, 11 October 2016

This Ability launch featured in Hull Daily Mail

Jerome Ellerby From left, Nicky Ivory-Chapman, of Channel 4, Laura Jane Rawlings, of Youth Employment UK and Andy Crossland, of Humber Learning Consortium

A unique event designed to raise awareness of the support available to the region’s businesses to help them hire people with disabilities was held in Hull.

Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson hosted the This Ability breakfast presentation at Hull Truck Theatre, saying nothing like it had been held in the country before.

Working in partnership, Talent Match Humber – a Big Lottery Fund programme aimed at helping young people into employment in the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership area – has developed the This Ability initiative to give the local business community a single point of reference for information, advice and guidance.

It is hoped that it will help employers make the most of the talent that exists among an “untapped” pool of people who have physical or hidden disabilities.

Mr Johnson said: “This is about the things disabled people can do, not what they can’t do; it is about capacity, not incapacity.

“Disabled people say one of the biggest barriers to getting a job is not transport difficulties, it is the attitude of employers.”

One of the keynote speakers at the event was Nicky Ivory-Chapman, the leading talent acquisition at Channel 4, who outlined the company’s approach to embracing disability in the workplace.

Ms Ivory-Chapman said: “Channel 4 has always been about challenging perceptions and reflecting the diversity of the UK.”

She told the 130-strong audience that the company had created its first diversity charter last year and that the TV channel’s mission for 2020 was to be the best employer for disabled people.

The company’s mission statement included reflecting the diversity of Britain today; creating an inclusive workplace and gaining recognition as a place that supports and champions inclusivity and diversity.

She said: “Our targets in 2016, in our Year of Disability, have been to have 50 per cent of our apprentice places taken by disabled people; to have 30 per cent of our work experience places taken by disabled people and to have taken on ten new Channel 4 staff with disabilities.”

Ms Ivory-Chapman spoke about the company’s steps to become disability confident and the main challenges it looked to address in breaking down barriers to employ disabled people.

“It has been about creating a culture, a top-down approach to educating our own employers about what a disability is,” she said. “People often divert onto the physical, but there is a whole host of stuff that is not visible.”

Ms Ivory-Chapman sat on a panel for a question-and-answer session with a group of other people, including Bob Bunce, of Humber Wood Recycling Project, who explained how being a disability confident employer had benefited his business; Jemma Genter, a founding member of the People’s Awareness of Disability Discrimination, and Claire Hanby, of employment support programme Access to Work.

Laura Jane Rawlings, founder and chief executive of Youth Employment UK, an organisation set up to support all those working in the youth employment sector, rounded off the event, offering her perspective on youth unemployment issues.

She said: “We specialise in all the barriers young people have moving from education into employment.

“There are so many labels we give our young people; we are keen as an organisation to encourage employers to see that our young people, in our area, are our responsibility.”