Croydon employs the highest number of their disabled population within Eastlondonlines boroughs.
According to recent figures, employers in Croydon employ just shy of 60 per cent of local people who suffer from a long-term debilitating disability. This is significantly higher than Hackney, who employ 40 per cent, or Tower Hamlets who employ only 36 per cent of their disabled population.
Croydon is home to 42,600 disabled people, 28 percent more than Lewisham. They employ 24,300 members of their special needs population, which is higher than any East London borough.
Croydon council won an award last month for its recent success in helping disabled people in the borough find employment. The Best Association of Supported Employment (BASE) Practitioners highlighted the council’s herculean efforts in driving employers towards employing disabled people by presenting them with a National Innovation Award.
The council has spearheaded several initiatives to educate potential local employers in the advantages of hiring a more diverse workforce. “The disability and confidence group supports potential employers to help disabled people get into work” said Allan Avis, the CEO of the Croydon branch of disabled charity Mencap.
Local councillor Emma Shepherd, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a condition rendering her joints hypermobile, organised The Disability Confident Action Group. Part of the National Disability Confident Campaign, this group increases the confidence of local employers to employ people with disabilities.
Shepherd’s team has also organised several other events and initiatives to connect employers with potential workers who have special needs. The Reverse Jobs Fair puts employers directly in contact with special needs candidates and the All About Me campaign helps disabled people looking for work experience in retail. “This team’s innovative work for Croydon jobseekers with disabilities is invaluable because it boosts their personal confidence and financial resilience” said Shepherd.
Croydon council worker Nana Marfo, 35, also has a reputation for finding work for disabled people in the borough, so much so that he has been nominated for a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award. Marfo works in tandem with the council to give disabled people a louder voice and get them into work that they can handle.
“It’s very important for people to have jobs as it gives them a voice and autonomy” says Marfo. “That’s why I want to pave a way for disabled people. I want them to be valued on their own merits”.
Marfo is disabled himself, due to a permanent breathing disorder and the loss of sight in one eye. “I believe you can only make change if you are in the [disabled] community, you cannot make a change from the outside”.