At home – with a disability – furloughed and not knowing when you can go back to work. This is where many of our disabled employees are, and they need your help to get through this to beat the social isolation; in many cases the lack of understanding of what is happening; the lack of contact with their colleagues they used to see every day and to overcome the uncertainties that some may be experiencing. Allow us tell you a bit about our charity and then please consider helping us by making the big difference that a donation can bring about.
Watford Workshop has been supporting people with disability in Watford and large parts of Hertfordshire and North Middlesex since 1964. We exist to enable people with disability to live more independently through teaching them work and skills that conquer social isolation through paid employment. This can then potentially lead to them moving to mainstream employment. We are unique in the area and rely on subcontract work such as packing, labeling and light assembly completed by our remarkable team for our income. Covid-19 means that a lot of this work has dried up for the moment and so a large number of them have had to be furloughed.
In the UK today there are over 13.9 million disabled people, and sadly they are twice as likely to be unemployed as able-bodied people. Covid-19 will not help this sad statistic as it seems likely that unemployment figures will increase nationwide for all demographics, at least in the short term, making it even harder for our people to move on from us into work with a mainstream employer.
We need your help to run a new service we have launched to cater to the new pressures on our furloughed people with disability as a result of being at home. A little while ago one of our disabled service users told us:
“You have given me the opportunity to work; to learn new skills; to earn a living; to develop a social network; to improve my health and well-being and given me something to wake up for in the morning.”
Overnight much of that has temporarily disappeared for many and it has become very clear that we must support them as much as we can. With your help we can. The range of disabilities of those that come to us is wide. Learning difficulties, visual and hearing impairments, mute, downs syndrome, mental health conditions, and physical disability are among the conditions currently supported. All our people are very dear to us and we MUST continue to support them throughout the crisis; and your help can make that a reality.
The consequences of Covid-19 have brought about dramatic changes in two ways: As explained above, the work being undertaken at the Workshop has drastically reduced and the social distancing rules mean we have temporarily reduced capacity at the Workshop. This leaves a large financial cost even after taking into account any furloughing grant from government.
The other urgent problem is support for those at home needing help to understand what has been happening, what to do if supplies run low and what to do if they feel unwell. In particular, someone with learning difficulties is likely not to understand why after 20 years they cannot now go into work and have to stay at home and why they cannot go out to see their friends and family. So we have set up the new support service so that we stay in touch with all those at home and are able to respond to any problems we are able to discover during the regular chats. This includes frequent phone calls, advice and digital contact. We help ensure they are okay, as well as providing services to those in need, such as advising or even helping with shopping. We are also developing a regular newsletter too. This all comes at a cost to us and your donations will fund this much needed service.
We know it is already working based on the following note we received the other day:
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you, and the rest of the team at Watford Workshop for all you do (and continue to do) for our son. He is very lucky to work for such a kind company.”
The initial target is £2,000 to help fund the new helpline and support service. This will help towards tackling the anxiety and isolation that has come about as a result of the furloughing measures we have had to take. It will allow us to remain in continuing and regular contact with our 50+ disabled staff. This means we can help them to remain safe and well informed throughout the entirety of this crisis. If you can help us beat the initial target then that money will go towards the costs of our main activity which is to train people with disability to work and to enhance skills that will enable many to have a better and more independent life than they had before they came to us. It is a big ask but with your help we can do this. Thank you.