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A2W Experiences / 17 April 2009

Fellow crip Lorraine Gradwell at Breakthrough UK is asking if you have had any positive or negative experiences of the Access to Work scheme (A2W). If so, she’s asking you to write in and tell her about it. The hope is that this will maybe help others avoid some of the pitfalls that still exist.

This is hot-on-the-heels of the government announcing an additional £8 million for the A2W scheme (designed to support Disabled people at their place of work). This now takes the funding to £77 million, which is available over the next 12 months.

Jonathan Shaw, Minister for Disabled People, said that even in the present economic climate the government is (still) committed to contributing to supporting Disabled people to live independently. He’s also stated that the government has also promised to increase A2W funding to £138 million within the next five years (so at least not all of government funding is going towards the bloody Olympics!).

As you probably know, A2W (which is handled by Job Centre Plus) offers a variety of different facilities to assist Disabled people at work. These include financial help with specialist aids and equipment, adaptations to premises and equipment, and funding for travelling to and from work. It also includes tailored Support, with each support package being tailored to the specific requirements of each person and their employer – and apparently there’s also no upper limit on each individual support package.

It should be noted that it’s you as the employee who needs to get the ball rolling on this issue and not your employer. You’ll need to speak to your Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) or your Regional A2W contact to find out if you qualify for the scheme.

So, if you want to help out with this project then please contact Lorraine and her colleagues at Breakthrough UK by email on: advocacy@breakthrough-uk.co.uk

You can also read their autumn 2008 Free Wire magazine which looks at the A2W scheme in depth and tells you how Disabled people have navigated some of the problems in the past. It’s a PDF document which you can read on screen or print off. Here’s the link for that:

http://www.breakthrough-uk.com/documents/FreeWire6_001.pdf

Lorraine has asked me to emphasise that this is for A2W experiences only. Also, that they can’t handle requests for advocacy unless you live in the Greater Manchester area – sorry (although if she got enough requests from other areas of the country perhaps she could get more funding and expand this excellent crip run service?).

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