Thursday, 26 July 2012

Undiscovered Workforce campaign gathers pace

We've had loads of interest from ambassadors and champions in our Undiscovered Workforce campaign on employment. The campaign asks MPs to take the lead in creating employment opportunities for their constituents with autism, by bringing together local employers, people with autism, the local authority and other services in the community. The aim is to raise awareness of the difficulties facing people with autism who are looking for work and to ensure there is specialist support available for employers, as well as employees, to help people with autism succeed in the workplace.

Helen Kelly, an Ambassador from Tyne and Wear, supports the campaign because she is concerned for her 12-year-old daughter who has autism. "Her future worries me", she says, "She will be trying to get a job and I think her autism will be a disadvantage. There needs to be more awareness of the condition out there and people with autism should have the right to the proper support in a job".

Although she admits she was a little nervous at first, Helen wrote to her MP on the issue - the first time she had ever contacted him. However, her feelings soon changed when she realised she'd been sent a standard letter: "To be honest, I was a bit annoyed to get a generic email in reply. This is a serious thing - you can't just send a generic response".

Helen contacted the NAS with her MP's reply and we gave her a special response letter we've written for Ambassadors and Champions to send when they're not satisfied with their MP's response to the Undiscovered Workforce campaign.

Now Helen's looking to the next steps in her campaigning: "I would like to meet my MP and put my case forward. This is a real issue, not only for people who are in the workplace now but also for those people with autism who will be working in the future. There are thousands of people in this situation, and the have the right to work like everybody else"

If you want to support the Undiscovered Workforce campaign you can send a letter to your MP through our website here: If you've already sent an initial email and haven't received a reply or aren't satisfied with the response you have received, don't be afraid to politely challenge them on it. Or if your MP asks you how they can help, make sure you take them up on their offer. Get in touch us at and we'll give you advice on what to do next. 

There are loads of great things going on with the Undiscovered Workforce campaign around the country - we've had MPs writing to local businesses, organising breakfast events and pushing Local Authorities to set up supported employment services - don't let your area miss out!

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