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HelmsBriscoe supports pioneering autism work project

Meeting Needs  supporting HB Cares
Meeting Needs has supported HB Cares by match-funding £2,000 against the money raised at their annual event at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel. The total money raised at the event will go to the National Autistic Society (NAS) who HB Cares supports via this event and their work experience project for young adults with autism.

On 9th February, 54 HelmsBriscoe Hotel Partners and guests gathered at the Renaissance St. Pancras in London to attend the annual fund-raising event and celebrate three years of HBCares involvement with the work experience project. Organised by HelmsBriscoe, the event raised £23,000 for NAS, £2,000 of which was funded by MIMN.   

Recent statistics estimate the overall cost to the UK economy of autism is £32bn, which is more than the national spend on cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.  Despite these frightening numbers, most people remain unaware of the huge impact this often misunderstood condition has throughout UK communities.  Additionally, only 15% of adults with autism hold full-time paid employment and 66% are unemployed.  This represents less than half the number of full-time employment across all disabilities.  More shockingly still, 43% of people with autism have left or lost a job due to their condition.  

Paul McIntyre of the National Autistic Society, NAS, shared, “HelmsBriscoe’s pioneering employment programme is divided into three sections.  Stage one lasts for six weeks where the client meets weekly with their employment support consultant and attends six workshops focusing on workplace skills, anxiety management, interview skills, etc.”  He added, “the interview itself can be a very daunting and challenging experience for the autistic individual as the typical structure seeks to highlight not what the potential employee can actually do but instead focuses on communicating how well they can do it”.  

Carole McKellar, Managing Director of HelmsBriscoe in Northern Europe thanked the London hotels who have provided work placements for stage two of the project.  “Without their willingness to work with an autistic individual, the programme would only be theoretical.  These placements allow young people to gain real-life experience of work and in return, hotels are finding a new pool of talent for recruitment” said McKellar.  The final stage of the programme features one-to-one supported job finding, including CV make-up and design, writing cover letters and the development of a job shortlist tailored to the clients' skill sets and achievable aspirations. The proof of success comes from one of the young autistic individuals who took part in the programme. “It was a really enjoyable experience and the staff were very helpful with my anxiety difficulties.  I worked with staff from all over the world and for the first time at work, truly felt part of a team”, they shared. Carole McKellar said, “We didn't want to run this project for a year or two and move onto to something else.  We wanted to create a programme that had a long term future and would introduce more young people to our industry".   

With the support of the MPI Foundation, MPIF, Meeting Needs, MIMN, the Together Trust and The NAS, more than 18 young people have been chosen to receive employment training and introduced to the potential of a job in the meetings industry.  Tony Fundaro with MPIF and Shonali Rodrigues from MIMN both actively supported the initiative and have helped to create a sustainable project.    

Shonali Rodrigues, Director of Development for MIMN said “We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile cause that has been shown such passion and commitment by one of our Charity Partners. This particular collaboration highlights how well our industry can work with charities to really make a difference. Working with MIMN, HBCares has been able to boost funds for this event, assisting them in their valuable work.”

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