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DFN-MoveForward Programme

DFN-MoveForward is a programme of ThinkForward, supported by the DFN Foundation. DFN-MoveForward works in London, Kent and the West Midlands with young people who have mild to moderate learning disabilities with the aim of supporting them into sustainable paid employment. These young people can face massive challenges around getting into the workplace.

Just 4.8% of adults with learning disabilities and autism known to adult services get into paid work, compared to 80% of their peers.

The DFN-MoveForward programme began as a pilot in Islington and Kent in 2017. Following the success of the pilot, the programme has received funding through a Social Impact Bond from the government’s Life Chances Fund, and expanded into the West Midlands in 2018.

DFN-MoveForward coaches work with an intensive caseload of 45 young people in each region, split across two to three schools/colleges.

Through one-to-one coaching and group work sessions, coaches support young people to develop essential life skills, become more independent and take part in a range of different exposures to the workplace.

With the right support, young people with mild to moderate learning disabilities have a lot to offer employers, and by extension, their wider communities. Our work focuses on building on the strengths and talents of young people, while developing key life and work skills like confidence, self-awareness, independence and ambition.

The programme has a long-term approach. Young people are enrolled in school during Year 11 and can stay on the programme through to their early twenties. This ensures they are fully supported during the key transition from education into employment, and crucially through the early stages of their working life.

The consistent presence of a skilled coach is complimented by a Business Partnerships Manager who links students with relevant employers to provide work insight days and work experience opportunities. They also support employers to tailor their offer to the needs of young people.

In addition, DFN-MoveForward is partnering with Project Search to offer some students one-year supported internships. A large local employer will take on a number of young people and provide them with the opportunity to rotate across different departments, gaining valuable learning and experience of how to do various jobs within the workplace. The programme also provides additional training and support for school staff around delivering employability skills to students.