Mayor announces £465k employability scheme for people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Doncaster

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South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, has announced that £465k has been awarded to Doncaster Deaf Trust (DDT) to fund a recently developed project that will support people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) into further learning and employment.

The project, called Aspire to Be, offers tailored, sector-specific training for those aged 16-60 with SEND. The project aims to build on personal skills and provide opportunities to increase confidence, self-esteem, self-development, and improve health and wellbeing as individuals are supported to achieve employment in various sectors, including:



Doncaster Deaf Trust has been awarded £465kDoncaster Deaf Trust has been awarded £465k
Doncaster Deaf Trust has been awarded £465k



The training modules have been inclusively designed to aid support for those with limited abilities or anxieties, that would otherwise be excluded from or would not engage in an educational setting. In addition, the programme offers a clear focus on employment outcomes and non-accredited training within these sectors as it prepares people for work and is tailored to ability and needs.

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A 2022 survey from the Office of National Statistics showed that disabled people who were “limited a lot” were almost twice as likely to have no qualifications than non-disabled people (5.4% compared with 10.1% respectively).

Specialist support will be available throughout the programme that will include Accessibility to the Doncaster Deaf Trust specialist supports services such as BSL, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and a specialist SEND Level 6 Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance Advisor.

Aspire to Be provides a range of activities aimed at SEND individuals, including:

Employability – CV writing, application writing, interview support, independent travel and searching for jobs

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Confidence and motivation – Building confidence and goal setting

Personal Development - Budgeting, healthy eating, and personal hygiene

Digital Technology - Using different methods of technology for the benefit of learning, engagement, and continuous development of support.

South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, said:

“South Yorkshire has to be a place where everyone can stay near and go far; a place where the opportunities you can access are only limited by the ambition you have, and where everyone has a chance to make the most of their talents.

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“That’s why I’m so pleased to have been able to support Aspire to Be. The team running the project are the best of our community, helping people across South Yorkshire to overcome the barriers they face, and build the life they want, offering compassion, respect, and care.”

There are 1.4 million people in the UK classified as having a learning disability (Mencap 2019) and according to estimates, just 4.8% are currently in paid employment despite a willingness and ability to work. Statistics show East Midlands, which includes the South Yorkshire regions, having the lowest rate (BASE stats 2020/21).

Alexis Johnson, chief executive officer of Doncaster Deaf Trust, which manages Aspire to Be, said: “We are thrilled that Aspire to Be has been awarded a contract from SYMCA so we can deliver this innovative and much-needed project providing specialist employability and employment outcomes to adults across South Yorkshire. The service is for adults who are Deaf/hearing impaired, neuro diverse or those who have any other communication difficulty helping to make a valuable difference to their lives by developing their skills and supporting them into work.

“Our Aspire to Be team really are experts in this field and have built a strong reputation for both supporting people with the challenges they face and working with employers to break down any barriers. We’re all really excited to start this new chapter for this project with this vital funding. We now really want to hear from individuals who think this programme may be right for them or professionals in the education and employment field in South Yorkshire who are aware of people who could benefit."

For more information about Aspire to Be, please visit or email [email protected]

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