Employment Futures

Employment Futures exists to help remove barriers to meaningful employment for autistic adults and/or those with learning difficulties.

Michael Addison was beginning to lose hope of ever finding a job again after 15 years of unemployment.

But while he was searching online, he found the DiversityNE employability programme aimed at getting disabled and neurodivergent people into work.

Three months after completing the programme, Michael got a job - as a cleaner in Newcastle city centre.

The 41-year-old is thrilled to be working again. “I felt brilliant when I got the job,” he said. "It is very good for my self-esteem and I like to be doing something again.” 

DiversityNE was run by the North East Autism Society and Azure Charitable Enterprises, and was funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority and European Social Fund in a bid to reduce the disability employment gap.

Employment specialists on the programme delivered personalised one-to-one support which included help with CVs, applications and interviews, skills development, workplace matching and in-work support.

Even though DiversityNE has come to an end after its three-year term, it has been replaced by a new programme called ProgressNE, also delivered by NEAS and Azure and focusing exclusively on economically inactive clients.

Michael, who lives in Newcastle, said: “I’d tried lots of other programmes but not one of them worked. They just involved sitting at a computer and I’d started to lose hope of ever finding a job.

“But DiversityNE was like nowhere else. They got me onto training – I did a customer skills certificate – and also helped me brush up my CV, showed me techniques for looking for work, and helped me with applications.”

Michael used to work at Kwik Save supermarkets before being made redundant, and was still focused on retail. But with his DiversityNE coach’s help, he started to look at cleaning jobs. 

“That gave me the confidence to apply for TSS cleaning services,” he said. “I now work for them cleaning in John Lewis or Fenwick. They understand my needs and support me. I enjoy the social aspect of it and they are a nice crowd.

Going on DiversityNE and getting this job have changed my life. My family are proud of me. Hopefully I can carry on and work up the ladder.

Rachael Leisk, Michael’s job coach, said: “It was a pleasure working with Michael. He was so determined to find a job where he could prove he was a hard worker and I knew he would get there.”

Michael is one of 278 people supported by DiversityNE, of whom 100 have gone into work, education or training.

Find out more about ProgressNE