CareTrade has a passionate belief “that employment is the biggest single factor that will transform the life of an autistic person.” And our vision for the future is “a world that embraces neurodiversity where all autistic people can lead purposeful, working lives”
Who We Support - We support autistic people, mostly adults. Over 1% of people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum and about half have additional learning disabilities. There are an estimated 80,000 autistic people across London (32 boroughs) 60,000 of them are adults and approximately 7,000 aged between 18 and 25:-
We believe that being in employment is the biggest single factor that will transform the life of a person with autism and to date this has been a theme of all our projects. Being in employment brings not only economic benefits, it increases individuals self-confidence and general sense of wellbeing as being in work helps us feel valued and a part of our community. In turn this also delivers benefits to families and it will in the long term help change perceptions and create more acceptance of difference in our society.
What we do - Since 2010, CareTrade has supported over 350 autistic Londoners, through The Autism Project, In Work Support, our Cafe and Kitchen Traineeship or one of our Employability Programmes (Employment Opportunities, Reach, Think Talent, Job Club or Jobseekers) and provided autism awareness training to over 2,000 employees of partner organisations.
At CareTrade, we do things differently. The focus of CareTrade’s current work is to enable autistic young people and adults to move towards and into work, equipping them to lead more independent lives of choice. The majority of all learning usually happens in real work environments and hence building strong and supportive partnerships with employers is a key component of our work.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have had to adapt how we work. This has brought both challenges and opportunities.
Our core programme, The Autism Project (TAP) is for young people with an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan), was most affected as work experience with host employers is central to this. However both students and staff adapted well to online remote learning/teaching and we continue to use both this to supplement face to face work. Students worked together to form teams and develop Enterprise projects in the autumn term and as a charity it has led to the fast tracking of our Café/Kitchen project so we can offer some ‘in-house’ work experience.
TAP is an intensive 2 year ‘supported internship’ style employability programme, funded through Department of Education and student’s Local Authorities. Typically 60% of TAP graduates move into employment. Even with the pandemic 25% gained paid employment. Three of our TAP students have been full-time work for more than seven years.
We pride ourselves on being able to continue to offer support to TAP graduates:-
When grant funds are available CareTrade runs employment projects for autistic adults who do not qualify for TAP and a weekend Café Traineeship for those interested in working in catering and hospitality. We currently have grants to support our weekend Café to July 2021 and Jobseekers to November 2021 and run some sponsored programmes (Aspire with Schools and Think Talent with Barclays).
Our strategic plan highlighted the need to grow the Café project before the ongoing impact of Covid19. There was a clear need for real work experience in an environment that we could control for some young people. The last year has made this a critical need, as our employer partners face their own challenges and have been unable to offer work-experience opportunities to TAP students. In February we opened the Working Kitchen to help fill this gap. This has already helped 19 young people gain work experience and it is our aim to develop this and our Café into a social enterprise that can provide valuable and ongoing work-experience post July 2021.
We are keen to increase our profile and online offer to reach and support a wider group of beneficiaries and engage with more employers.