Debate sought to discuss employment support for disabled people

The Engine ShedI was bitterly disappointed to receive news that the Engine Shed is being forced to wind up its current operations.

The organisation, which has provided work-based training placements for young adults with learning disabilities since 1989, confirmed that due to the withdrawal of council funding it will cease operation in the next six months.

Over the years, the organisation has built up a successful community café, bakery and shop and had expanded its operation into catering.

The announcement of closure follows yearly battles in recent times to secure council funding amid a shake-up of services for disabled people in the city.

In response to the funding disappointment, staff and volunteers at the Engine Shed are now turning their focus to the future, exploring the possibilities of developing new ways of continuing its work.  I have written to the Scottish Government and the Council to ask what support they can offer to help in this transition process to ensure that the years of accumulated knowledge and expertise is not lost.

Over the years, I’ve met many trainees who have moved on from the Engine Shed to find mainstream work. The Engine Shed model is transformative, with a well-documented success rate, providing people with the skills and confidence to overcome barriers to work and helping them to a position where they can support themselves.

At the moment in Scotland, around half the people of working age with a disability are currently employed, despite many more having the talent, skills and desire to work.  Supported employment has an important role to play in redressing this balance.

Unfortunately, supported employment in Edinburgh has been hit in recent years with the closure of BlindCraft and Remploy and the announcement on the Engine Shed is further disappointing news.

I have lodged a motion in Parliament and hope to secure a Member’s Debate to discuss the supported employment sector and its importance in ensuring that disabled people are supported into work.