We've partnered with Co-op Academy Southfield, Bradford thanks to funding from the Co-op, to develop a pilot Co-operative (ad)Venture scheme which will support young people aged 16 and above with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism, as they transition from education into the world of work. 

young person taking part in one of our Co-operative (ad)Venture celebration events

The pilot was created following research from Mencap which highlighted the scale of the problem, finding that only one in 10 people with learning disabilities are in employment – but at least 65 per cent have said they would like a job. The new project will equip them with the skills to tackle many of the challenges they face, boosting their confidence.  

The scheme launches this month, with sessions delivered twice per week through until January 2022. Focusing on cooperative values, cooperative behaviours and how to work together cooperatively, the group of 10 young people will be taught how to set up and run their own informal co-operative, preparing them with a wide range of experience as they think about their next steps post education. 

There will be a particular focus on work experience, with Co-op providing placements for these young people and offering first-hand experience of what the world of work might look like for them.  

What the partners had to say

Part of our vision of Co-operating For a Fairer World, is about building stronger and more resilient communities, so that every young person has fair access to education and employment. 

That’s why we’re proud to be funding such an innovative scheme that will equip young people with the skills to tackle any challenges they might face. We must continue to ensure that young people have the opportunity to gain the skills and values that will set them up for the future.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at the Co-op

We’re excited to partner with Co-operative College and pilot this unique project here at Co-op Academy Southfield.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for our young people and a perfect match for our sixth form, the Pathfinder Vocational Centre. Here we’re developing young adults to have the greatest level of resilience, independence and aspiration. The Co-operative (ad)Venture will build upon the amazing work our colleagues do. We’re excited to see where this project takes our students.

Co-op Academy Southfield Executive Principal, Dominic Wall

Our Co-op values and behaviours are core to everything we do. This project not only works on these core principles but will bring these to life in meaningful ways for our young people. They’re values that’ll stay with us for a lifetime, so I’m really happy we can continue to provide excellent opportunities like this. 

These opportunities always highlight to me the benefits that working together can bring, it truly is the Co-operative difference. 

Thank you to Co-operative College and Co-op for providing an amazing opportunity for our students at  Co-op Academy Southfield.

Co-op Academies Trust CEO, Dr Chris Tomlinson

We’re delighted to be expanding our Co-operative (ad)Venture scheme into another new area and couldn’t wish for better partners than the Co-op and Co-op Academies Trust. We know the impact the scheme can have and have seen how it’s already helped young people right across the UK. We can’t wait to see the difference it will make to the lives of the young people who’ll join us and we’re very excited to see what they’ll achieve.

Gemma Obeng, our Head of Projects

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