Innovative Practice 2017 on Employment, Work and Vocational Education and Training

People with intellectual disabilities as project coordinators

CHANGE is a non-profit organization led by people with disabilities. For 22 years, CHANGE has employed people with intellectual disabilities in open labour market conditions to co-work on their projects and to co-deliver training. The projects of CHANGE include a health and care strategic partner programme in cooperation with the NHS and a parenting support programme. CHANGE has been asked by the Department of Health to look at improving people’s lives as they move from hospital back to the community. Together, these projects create a number of new jobs every year.

“I feel very proud knowing that I am making a difference in the world for people with learning disabilities. I am breaking down barriers using my experiences to make things better for other people with learning disabilities.”

Mr. Shaun WebsterA CHANGE project worker
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:People with intellectual disabilities as project coordinators
of Implementation
United Kingdom


    • Jobs created in 2014: 4
    • Jobs created in 2015: 6
    • Jobs created in 2016:5 – 6 (estimate)


It is estimated that only 6 per cent of people with learning disabilities are in paid employment in the United Kingdom. People with intellectual impairments are the experts in their own lives. They can teach others what is best for them having a deep understanding and knowledge of what works and what does not.


CHANGE employs people with intellectual disabilities as project coordinators with the same salary, status, and responsibilities as their non-disabled colleagues.
The organization provides a supportive environment in which everyone’s unique contributions are valued. The rights of people with intellectual disabilities within the workplace are promoted through a wide range of accessible policies and procedures. These are all co-designed by people with intellectual disabilities and produced in an accessible format with easy-to-read words and pictures. This includes a range of documents – for example, agendas, meeting minutes, work-plans, and timesheets. These measures have produced the following results:
  • Helps people to feel less alone
  • Allows people to share their experiences with someone who understands their perspective
  • Helps people to work out ways of looking after themselves and dealing with the problems they face
  • Provides role models
  • Shows what is possible for people with a learning disability to achieve


The cost for employing eight co-workers is £70,557 per year. CHANGE raises most of its income through its various projects, but also receives government support. The co-worker model has recently been implemented by the National Health Service (NHS) in England, which created three paid posts for people with intellectual disabilities in the delivery of training and policymaking.


Ms. Philipa BRAGMAN
+44 113-242-6142


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