Sunderland teacher’s America trip to help find jobs for people with special needs

Martin Wright (left) finds out more about the work in an American hospital to help people with special needs.
Martin Wright (left) finds out more about the work in an American hospital to help people with special needs.
Have your say

A FORMER teacher is hoping his trip Statesside will help improve the job prospects of people with special needs.

Martin Wright, a retired deputy headteacher from Sunderland’s Portland College, won a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to help fund his six-week trip across America and Canada.

The aim of the trip was to research best practice in providing employment for people with learning difficulties.

Now, Martin, who is involved with Project Choice on Wearside, which is an internship project for people with learning difficulties, wants to use what he has learned to support and advise on the best way to help people.

He said: “Many people who have a learning difficulty are eager to work, but are unable to gain employment without some additional support and training.

“My Churchill Fellowship enabled me to visit 12 excellent examples of how this may be achieved.

“A mantra I came across in both the U.S. and Canada was that people with disabilities should be supported into ‘real jobs for real pay’.

“With the recent demise of Remploy’s sheltered workshops, the need for structured support to help people who have a disability into employment is perhaps even more vital now.”

Martin said he learnt many valuable lessons during his trip from professionals who support individuals with learning difficulties into employment.

He said: “All the schemes had government funding as they enabled young people to work, earn, pay tax and reduce their need for benefits.

“The use of job coaches and their methods of preparing and supporting individuals into work, provided useful models,”

Run by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Travelling Fellowships enable British citizens from all walks of life to acquire knowledge overseas.

Subjects include the arts, industry, conservation and the environment.