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Date posted: 12th June 2023
Last week, Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) urged business leaders, at a central London roundtable meeting, to employ an intern at the launch of its second year Get Set Progress programme. The application portal for companies to be part of this next round will open later this month.
The roundtable event, titled ‘Ensuring an inclusive workforce’ was attended by over 25 leading organisations.
Charles Colquhoun, CEO of TPT said, “It is important to both RNIB and ourselves that we can deliver high quality and effective services focused on supporting and enabling blind and partially sighted people to enter and stay in employment. We hope, through events such as these, and initiatives like the ‘Get Set Progress’ internship programme and RNIB’s ‘Visibly Better Employer’ standard that we can influence others, raise awareness, and change attitudes towards people living with sight loss.”
RNIB’s Visibly Better Employer quality standard aims to improve employers’ practices in supporting blind and partially sighted people within the workplace.
Martin O’ Kane, Head of Employment at RNIB, said: “After seeing the development of the Internship programme over the last 12 months with 23 Internships across the Sight Loss sector, we are excited to be supporting the programme as it expands into new sectors.”
Jamie Ward, Head of Learning and Development for Channel 4, attended the event and said: “The event was instructive, informative and enjoyable. As well as helping organisations learn about some of the challenges of different eyesight conditions and the challenges of those with sight loss getting into work, it was also rich in personal experience and solutions.”
Paul Arnold, Deputy Chief Executive at the ICO said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the event, hearing about the Visibly Better standard and the Internship programme was really encouraging. What was most impressive was hearing from the speakers, whose first hand experience of the programmes confirmed their lasting and life changing benefits. As a senior leader with a severe visual impairment I’m passionate about the benefits people with visual impairments bring to employers and to the economy. Taking simple steps to ensure people with visual impairments are able to apply for roles which make the most of their talents, thrive in those roles and go on to have successful careers isn’t just an inclusive practice, it’s sound business sense.
I’d encourage all employers to think about the skills and expertise it takes to live active and fulfilling lives with a visual impairment. They’re exactly the same skills you probably say you are looking for in all your job descriptions. With only 1 in 4 people of working age with a visual impairment currently in employment, many employers are missing out and the programmes we discussed at today’s event could be the first simple step to opening up a new talent pipeline.”
The Get Set Progress internship scheme will create a further 25 roles for blind and partially sighted jobseekers in addition to 23 already created in January last year. RNIB and the People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting TPT’s internship scheme to create the opportunities, following the success of previous years. TPT has run a programme of paid internships since 2015. The last tranche, appointed interns across sight loss charities.
TPT is calling for organisations from the Corporate and Voluntary sectors to now get involved. TPT supports the organisation and the intern throughout the nine-month placements, through onboarding, training, peer support opportunities and other costs.
“When TPT approached us to take part in the Get Set Progress internship programme we were delighted, as it directly aligns with our mission.’, said Cate Burke, CEO Focus Birmingham. ‘By offering internships tailored to their unique needs, we create an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and fosters equal opportunities. Through meaningful work experiences, mentorship, and adaptive technologies, the interns are able to unlock their potential and demonstrate that sight loss does not limit their ability to contribute and thrive. Witnessing the profound impact of these internships not only on the individuals themselves, but also us as an organisation, we are reminded that true success lies in embracing diversity and creating a society where everyone, regardless of visual impairment, can fully participate and live life to the full.”
Josh Feehan, Head of Internships at TPT said; “There are currently 11,000 blind and partially sighted people ready to enter the workplace, which is why it is so important for us to provide internship opportunities. The event demonstrates to companies how they can support people to get into work, through our successful ‘Get Set Progress’ internship programme. With an 85% success rate of getting our interns into employment within six months, we now hope to secure new partnerships to allow even more people to succeed.”
The internships are designed to be development opportunities and each intern has a dedicated training plan, receive a mentor and intensive employability support to provide a meaningful experience.
Emily Lamb, GSP Intern at Focus Birmingham said: “The TPT Get Set Progress Internship has aided my confidence, enabling and encouraging me to pursue my career ambitions. Prior to my internship experience, I was concerned and intimidated by the perceived inaccessibility of employment. However, I now feel informed, equipped and excited to embrace future employment opportunities!”
For more information on the scheme and how to apply, contact Josh Feehan, Head of Internships at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information regarding the Visibly Better Employer quality standard please contact Martin O’Kane, Strategic Employment lead at RNIB on Martin.OKane@rnib.org.uk.