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Herefordshire with miEnterprise

Project leads

The project leads for the Getting a Life project in Herefordshire were Tanya Kirby (Service Redesign Manager, Herefordshire Public Services) and Jon Pitts, Director, miEnterprise.  After March 2011, please contact tkirby@herefordshire.gov.uk or Jon Pitts

Herefordshire with miEnterprise – Self Employment for people with Learning Disabilities

mark at workmiEnterprise is a social enterprise in Herefordshire, supporting people with learning disabilities to plan, set up, run and develop micro-businesses, through supported self-employment. Through supported self-employment, people will develop their businesses and increase their earnings. miEnterprise is mutually owned by its members and operates as a marketing co-operative.

miEnterprise is working with the Getting a Life site in Herefordshire to explore how the model of supported self-employment can be shared more widely. Approaches in Herefordshire have been co-developed with Job Centre Plus and HM Revenue and Customs to make sure systems work for all the organisations involved, as well as for people with learning disabilities setting up their own businesses.

As part of the Getting a Life project, miEnterprise is working with Herefordshire Council’s welfare rights team to set up a financial planning and advice service for people who want to move into paid work.

This service aims to:

miEnterprise aims to promote the possibilities of self-employment to people with learning disabilities, support them to grow their businesses at a pace which suits them, and ensure that people who want to earn a living from self-employment can access the right advice and support to achieve this goal.

Here are some of the stories of people who are currently working with miEnterprise to set up and develop their own micro-businesses in Herefordshire.

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Jeremy's story
jeremy at workJeremy was one of the first members of miEnterprise, who has had a lifelong interest in books. Jeremy was keen to start up a business selling second-hand books. Since April 2009, he has been testing out various outlets and will now be renting a permanent market stall for one or two days a week. He particularly enjoys the relationship and status he now has with his customers.

miEnterprise brokered a deal for Jeremy to buy ex-stock non-fiction books from library services, and works with Jeremy to rent a place to sell his books.

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Matt and Mark's story
Matt and Mark are friends who have been maintaining an environmentally sensitive site in Hereford city together for a couple of years now. The site, which is on the riverbank, needs sensitive management because it is a site of Special Scientific Interest and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Matt and Mark work there regularly, and use hand tools which are better for the site’s conservation.

matt on the riverbank

When they began working, Matt and Mark were volunteers, but they are now paid for their work through individual contracts, and invoice on a monthly basis for their services. miEnterprise brokered Matt and Mark’s contracts and arranged some on-site support and tool hire.

miEnterprise is working with them to look at options for developing their business and increasing their earnings, for example through taking on maintenance of other sites.

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Marianne's story
marianne at workMarianne is a very talented artist who has never had support to sell her work commercially. She works in a very detailed way on cityscapes, landscapes and buildings. Due to the mathematical way she approaches a subject she has decided to call her business Calculated Art.

Marianne and miEnterprise are now working together to create art in different formats and media and will sell locally and online through miEnterprise. They are also exploring local galleries and exhibitions where Marianne can sell her art.

For more information about miEnterprise, go to www.mienterprise.org.ukWebsite opens in new window

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Gwyn's story

Gwyn, 20, has two jobs as a caretaker and as a cleaner. He is the first young person from his school (a special school for children and young people with learning disabilities aged 4-19) to leave and go straight into paid employment rather than going on to college.

Whilst still at school, Gwyn and his family got involved in the Getting a Life programme, and they started to think about employment and what job he would like to do when he left school. Gwyn knew that he did not want to go on to college and wanted to get a job straight away.

When he reached 16, Gwyn started to receive a personal budget from social care funding, and used this to pay for employment support from Mencap Pathways. He undertook supported work placements and volunteered at a local café, to help him decide what kind of job he wanted.

Once Gwyn felt he knew what he wanted to do as a job, he applied for a variety of roles and succeeded in securing two roles - as a part time caretaker and a part time cleaner. He is really pleased with his jobs and is currently receiving on-the-job training to help him learn the different tasks. This support will gradually reduce with Mencap Pathways remaining in the background to review how the job is going.

Summary
Gwyn, 20, has two part-time paid jobs as a caretaker and as a cleaner. He is the first young person from his school (a special school for children and young people with learning disabilities aged 4-19) to leave and go straight into paid employment rather than going on to college.

Gwyn is using his personal budget to pay for employment support from Mencap Pathways. Mencap supported him on work placements to help him decide what kind of job he wanted, and are now training him to do the tasks in his new job.

Gwyn's name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity.

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