Realise Futures, which provides specialist support to help disabled people find and maintain meaningful employment, is among a group of businesses to be recognised as an exemplar in the supported business sector.
It is one of seven UK organisations to be given the new Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark (SEDEM), designed to provide assurance for commissioners and/or funding bodies and disabled people on specialist supportive environments for employees with disabilities.
Disabled employees working for supported businesses benefit from a mix of support, including adapted working practices, additional HR support, job coaches, aides and adaptations, and extra supervision.
The new mark has been developed by Social Enterprise Mark CIC, the social enterprise accreditation authority, and was developed following discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions, building on the government's Disability Confident Scheme.
As a social enterprise operating in Suffolk and Essex specialising in supporting people with disabilities and/or disadvantages through employment, training, learning and development, Realise Futures' employs around 290 people, 41 per cent of whom have a disability.
Realise Futures Managing Director Sally Butcher said: "We are so pleased to be recognised as one of the pioneering businesses to receive the new Social Enterprise Disability Employment Mark in recognition of the support we provide to enable disabled people to find and maintain meaningful employment.
"It is our social mission to increase the economic participation of people in the East of England who are disabled and/or disadvantaged, and we continue to measure our success on the positive impact we have on the lives of people we help and support, as well as the profit we generate."
Lucy Findlay, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, said: "We hope this accreditation will become a yardstick for businesses that wish to prove their credentials in creating the most supportive environment for employing disabled people, as well as demonstrating their social value."
Realise Futures has been providing community learning in Suffolk for more than 25 years and runs more than 100 adult community learning courses from centres in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Newmarket and Lowestoft, and other community centres, covering maths and English, computers and technology, skills for work, health and wellbeing, and family learning.
It delivers employment support services across Suffolk and Essex for people with disabilities on behalf of Essex County Council and the Work and Health Programme in Suffolk on behalf of Shaw Trust, as well as walk-in advice, peer support and help for people with learning disabilities and/or autism on behalf of Suffolk County Council.
Six Realise Futures' social businesses - from cafes to plant nurseries - provide employment, work experience and supported work for people with disabilities and/or disadvantaged throughout Suffolk.
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Business Systems Director