New partnership helps autistic people in North Devon find work

Frazer Edwards from Barnstaple works as a Junior Videographer with Next Steps

Frazer Edwards from Barnstaple works as a Junior Videographer with Next Steps - Credit: Pluss

Employment specialists Pluss have partnered with employers in North Devon to help people with autism find and keep employment 

Employment specialist Pluss believes no-one should be left behind and everyone should have an opportunity to fulfil their potential, whatever their background or disability. 

Pluss has partnered with North Devon-based Next Steps Development. 

The charity is an employer, providing a wide range of work opportunities for people with disabilities, half of whom are autistic.  

Lynda Gordon from Next Steps explained: “The majority of people working for us have had negative employment experiences, because they have not had the support or understanding they need.”  


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James Heal, 30, from Bideford, who has been a Stockroom Assistant in Next Steps’ charity shop in the town for five months, agrees: “What I like about my job is that I am not rushed, it is an understanding environment. I have always struggled to find suitable jobs where they understood my needs. Most don’t understand Autism and Dyspraxia.  

“Next Steps allows me to learn at my pace and make the environment easier to understand.  

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Next Steps, based in Barnstaple and Bideford, works closely with Pluss, part of the Seetec Group, which supports people with autism and other disabilities to obtain and retain a job. 

Lynda Gordon explained: “Pluss have been a lifeline, they are brilliant at supporting individuals right through the Access to Work process. Our relationship with Pluss is fantastic.”  

According to Lynda many people with autism struggle with anxiety because they worry about misunderstanding what is said to them. 

Working with employers to understand the adjustments they need to make, including explaining requirements clearly, is the key to gaining a committed and capable employee.  

At the Bideford charity shop, James Heal has learned how to quality check donations, to steam clothes, some stock control and customer service skills. He also helped to paint the walls while the shop was closed in lockdown. 

James Heal at work in Next Steps’ charity shop in Bideford

James Heal at work in Next Steps’ charity shop in Bideford - Credit: Pluss

James explained: “Pluss helped me get the job by helping with job searches, phoning companies and even attended interviews with me. They also helped me to apply for a Job Coach.”  

Frazer Edwards, 26, from Barnstaple, loves his job as a Junior Videographer with Next Steps: “I get to be creative and work with awesome people who also have creative ideas, many also have autism.” 

For more information about Pluss and the services it offers, visit www.pluss.org.uk or call 0800 334 5525.

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