County Durham non-profit urges employers to ‘think differently’ this learning disability week

A County Durham based non-profit organisation and social enterprise has urged employers to boost opportunities for adults with learning disabilities.

The campaign titled We See You has been launched this learning disability week (17-23 June) in direct response to the week's theme - "Do You See Me?". It urges employers to implement inclusive practices to improve recruitment processes.

Bridge Creative in Bishop Auckland is urging employers to sign a pledge in support. It is part of the organisation's mission to create opportunities, and remove barriers to employment, for adults with learning disabilities or who are neurodivergent. By signing a pledge, businesses and employers acknowledge and recognise the importance of creating an inclusive workforce.

Ben Tinkler, Managing Director, and founder of Bridge Creative, said: “The importance of creating an inclusive workplace should never just be a box ticking exercise. It is a misconception that creating an inclusive workplace is only beneficial to the employer."

Ben spoke of the positive benefits. He said: "Not only does it create higher retention rates for the employer, it creates a happier and healthier workforce of employees that are really dedicated and have gained a massive sense of purpose, value and confidence.”

Ben was inspired to set up Bridge Creative through previous roles working with adults with learning disabilities, and noticed the gap in support available when trying to gain access to work experience opportunities. This caused a knock-on effect of preventing them from moving into further paid employment, Ben found.

Bridge Creative has supported over 200 people with learning disabilities both nationally and across County Durham - an area with one of the lowest employment rates for people with learning disabilities - since 2018. It runs employment workshops alongside projects which look to boost CV writing skills and hone interview techniques for people in those groups.

There is also role-play employment support with people from real external firms - and Bridge Creative facilitates alternatives to traditional interview settings that some people may find difficult, such as half-day work experience trials. The organisation works with a range of employers hoping to train management teams and offer work experience, in the hopes of improving confidence and setting people on the right track to find a paid job.

Having successfully collaborated with Festival Republic, Glastonbury, BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend, We Out Here Festival and Tough Mudder UK, the ‘We See You’ Campaign video features Tom, a festival Crew member in action. This week local organisations such as the Angel Trust have also been involved in spreading awareness.

Dean Wyllie, who has worked as an events assistant at festivals with Bridge, said: “I’ve gained more confidence, pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Just because I have a learning disability doesn’t mean I can’t work.”

He added: “I would say that businesses just need to consider what reasonable adjustments need to be in place, consider the person’s needs, and disabled people have the expertise to help you do this.”

Bridge is looking to the future and launching a new London base. This comes after a successful expansion of the work to recruit adults with learning disabilities to work at festival-type events. Inclusive apprenticeships are also on the organisation's agenda.

To join the campaign, and find out more about the We See You pledge and the campaign video - visit