A DISABLED young Coventry woman who spoke out against Council proposals to scrap job support services for disabled people and those with mental health problems is celebrating receiving her first pay check.
Heidi Crowter, who told The Observer last month that she was ‘scared for what the future would hold’ following Council threats to cut funding to The Employment Support Service (TESS), has found work through the service in a hairdressers.
Heidi, who has Down’s Syndrome, is ‘over the moon’ after receiving her first ever wages from her new employer Raspberry Kids and Teen Hair Salon in Leamington Spa.
Despite having completed NVQ Level 1 qualifications in Hairdressing and Customer Service at Heart of England Training, the 20-year-old Lime Tree Park resident had struggled to find employers interested in offering her work and work experience.
But it is thanks to TESS that Heidi has secured her first job and wages, saying she will donate some of her money to a Christian charity and save some for when she hopes to move into her own house.
Heidi’s employer and co-owner of the Raspberry Kids & Teen Hair Salon, Marion Burns, said she was delighted TESS had contacted her about Heidi, as she is ‘perfect for the job’.
She added: “I’d like to think that more employers would use TESS to help with recruitment and give people like Heidi the opportunity to gain paid work, it’s a fantastic service.
“I had no idea that getting a job was so important to Heidi and her mum, I am really pleased that we have been able to make such a difference.”
But, while Heidi’s battle has been won, the war against Coventry City Council cuts to the vital support service wages on.
TESS offers disabled and mentally ill people a helping hand when facing the job market – finding them employment and work experience opportunities and offering coaching on the job to help them understand and carry out tasks.
Peter Court, a leading campaigner against cuts to TESS, said without the service disabled and mentally ill people across Coventry would become ‘stuck’ in the welfare system.
“It’s a false economy,” he said.
“If the council remove this support from disabled and mentally ill Coventry residents those same people will then have to be placed on welfare benefits – giving the Council an even larger bill to foot.”
Citing figures from research on supported employment schemes in Kent in 2010, Mr Court pointed out that the council made an average annual saving of £1,300 for each disabled person supported into work.
He added: “While the Council are making a saving in one area, the cost is simply transferred to another department.”
“Surely the Council would rather have people like Heidi in work – earning money, paying taxes, and feeling like valued and supported members of our communities?”
Heidi’s mother, Liz Crowter, said that the work TESS put into finding Heidi her job was ‘invaluable’ – thanking staff that had gone ‘the extra mile’ to help her daughter.
She added: “This job couldn’t be more suitable for Heidi as she loves children and she loves hairdressing.
“Like many young disabled people, Heidi wants the same things from life that we often take for granted and having a real job is one of those things.”