SAVE THE EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT SERVICE – TESS – By Liz Crowter – Save TESS Pressure Group

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Hello and thank you for reading this.

I’m Liz Crowter and my daughter is Heidi.

We would like to ask for your support to help save a really important and valuable Coventry service that works with some of our most vulnerable adults and young people.

TESS (The Employment Support Service) is funded by Coventry City Council. The service has been helping people with learning disabilities, autism, physical disabilities and mental health issues gain and stay in employment for more than 22 years.

Like a lot of disabled people, Heidi wants the same opportunities in life that we all want. To be as independent as possible and be part of the community, having a job and earning her own money is an important part of this. TESS have been instrumental in finding her work experiences and supporting both her and the employer in those experiences. Without TESS she would be unable to fulfil her dream of getting and keeping a valuable job and place in the work force.

Despite vowing to protect the most vulnerable, the Council is planning on closing TESS in December if it can not find the money. TESS is a unique service in Coventry, 100’s of people depend on its support both now and in the future. We cant just sit back and let the Council close this vital service.

BUT WE CAN NOT DO THIS ALONE

WE REALLY DO NEED YOUR HELP

Help save employment support for disabled people

Thank You

Richard with his mum Jane

Jane says: “If people like Richard aren’t in work, it’s a false economy because they’d instead claim benefits. TESS helped Richard get a job 15 years ago and without the ongoing support they have provided when there have been changes at work he wouldn’t still be there. Richard’s mixing with people who don’t have learning disabilities. He’s more independent and has learned about money and social interaction. Please help us to save TESS for people like Richard and all the other people out there, who have such a lot to offer given the chance and support”.

How can you help?

  • Please sign our e-petition at http://epetitions.coventry.gov.uk/2015/04/save-the -employment-support-service/ and ask your family, friends and others to.

    Please note: once you submit your name on the e-petition you will receive a reply asking you to click on a link to confirm that you are who you say you are, if you don’t do this your signature will not count. Please check your “junk” folder as this is where it often ends up.

  • Would you be willing to help collect signatures for our petition? If you would then please contact me (details below) and I will send you details.
  • Follow us on Facebook and send the link to others who may support us https:// www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Employment-Support-Service- TESS/1628758824033355?fref=ts
  • Write to, call or see your local Councillor and MP and ask them what they are doing to save TESS and protect some of the most vulnerable people in Coventry.

Join the Save TESS Pressure Group Contact Liz Crowter Email: liz.crowter@lfsbc.org.uk or Call: 07542571427

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PUBLIC MEETING – KEEP TESS & JOB SHOP SERVICES PUBLIC

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COVENTRY PEOPLE NEED QUALITY JOBS

Public Meeting for Service Users, Staff, Carers and all Coventry Residents

Service users, carers and Council staff are dismayed that the Council’s Place Directorate are proposing to discontinue flagship services for vulnerable adults & young people with learning disabilities, autism and severe and enduring mental ill health. In addition the proposals could implement post cuts at the highly successful Job Shop.

These services are delivered by some of the most able, dedicated and expert staff in their field, not just in Coventry but nationally. TESS won a national Award for its service only last year, winning Team of the Year from the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) for its outstanding work in encouraging employers to employ those furthest from the labour market. There are currently no other services able to continue this work. The impact for the most vulnerable, their families and employers will be significant.

Please help us to save these services. Ensure all Coventry residents have access to quality jobs, training and education opportunities!

UNISON Dismay at proposal to cut Job Support to Vulnerable Coventry Residents

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Unison has responded with dismay to news that the Council’s Place Directorate management are proposing to discontinue The Employment Support Service (TESS), which is a flagship services for vulnerable adults and young people with learning disabilities, autism and severe and enduring mental ill health, as well as implementing post cuts at the highly successful Job Shop.

The proposals will see 10 posts deleted at the TESS project, putting all post holders at risk of redundancy. This alongside the deletion of two specialist employment advisor roles at the Job Shop, to be replaced by recruiting new staff at a lower grade. The services being proposed for deletion are delivered by some of the most able, dedicated and expert staff in their field, not just in Coventry but nationally.

This explains how TESS won a national Award for its service only last year, winning Team of the Year from the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE), for its outstanding work in encouraging employers to employ those furthest from the labour market. TESS is also one of a small number of services nationally to be awarded Centre of Excellence status by the Centre for Mental Health, for its work with people who have severe mental health difficulties. TESS is a unique service in Coventry. There are currently no other services able to continue this work. The impact of losing this service for the most vulnerable, their families and employers will be significant.

The review proposals throw the Council’s pledge to protect the ‘most vulnerable’ into doubt. Suggestions the TESS service may be funded through ‘alternative’ means seem half formed. Unison is not convinced that those making the decisions have actually thought through how services are currently delivered. We believe direct public investment is the key to the high quality delivery, for which TESS and the Job Shop have become well known.

Unison is also aware that the Council has an opportunity to bid for substantial European Union money. This opportunity explicitly includes funding to support those facing mental health issues, as well as other groups such as young people and the long term unemployed. If a bid is successful, EU resource could develop and enhance the existing services, without the need for any redundancies. This seems to be a case of senior management making a short term saving to tick a box on the Council’s budget spreadsheet, at a time when local people are desperate to find work.

Sarah Feeney, Coventry City Unison Branch Secretary said, ‘This review proposal gives the impression that Council members and senior managers in Place Directorate see services like TESS as an ‘optional extra’, ‘fluffy’ or ‘nice to do’. They are not – they are the very core of Council provision, supporting those most in need. TESS and the Job Shop give Coventry people, who are struggling, the help they need to get a job and financial security for themselves and their families. We will not benefit from all the new investment and buildings in Coventry, if local residents looking for work are thrown back on the scrapheap, carry on being dependent on benefits and are kept out of the picture when it comes to the new jobs on offer.’

A short term investment from reserves for this year would mean that the existing staff resource and networks can be maintained to ensure the Council can maximise opportunity to deliver a successful service, using external funding from next year. Frankly this cut package is neither necessary nor needed at this time, even if one accepts the wider context of austerity, which Unison of course does not.

This review should be put back in the filing cabinet, which would be a sensible decision for unemployed Coventry residents, for the Council itself to avoid substantial potential redundancy costs, for the staff whose jobs are at risk, and for the Council tax

Contact: Sarah Feeney, 02476 521127, or phone Branch Office via 02476 550829

email – sarah.feeney@unisoncoventry.co.uk

Contact Coventry Unison via the above address or visit on the web via www.coventryunison.co.uk, our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/coventry.unison.  Follow @coventryunison on twitter.

Background Note: TESS was established in 1993 to bridge the gap between people accessing social care support and mainstream employment providers; this gap has significantly increased for many disabled people and people with mental health difficulties. With employment rates below 8% for people with learning disabilities and severe mental ill health and 15% for people with autism compared to 46.3% for working age disabled people and 76.4% for non-disabled people (2012 Labour Market Survey). People with the ability and determination to work are being written off as unemployable, passed from provider to provider with no real hope of getting into a job.

The cost to the public purse of supporting an unemployed job seeker is £9,400. This rises significantly when supporting a TESS service user. According to the National Audit Report 2011 the average cost in welfare benefits for a person with learning disabilities is £15,000 per year, this excludes housing benefit, health and social care support costs which can be significant and long-term. Cost Benefit analysis of Supported Employment has demonstrated they are a more cost effective way of supporting people, compared to providing on-going support in day services, professional support through secondary mental health services and continuing to pay welfare benefits, resulting in savings to the tax payer.

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