MEA council’s SEN inquiry response

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MEA council has said that more can be done to support local young adults with learning disabilities in response to a government inquiry.

The statement was included in a council response to the Committee of Employment and Learning’s inquiry into post special education need provision in education, employment and training for those with learning disabilities.

The inquiry aims to address concerns that once those with special educational needs leave full-time education, where they had long-term support, they are left with little help or options for what they do next.

The CEL Committee is examining post Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision in order to make recommendations on how to improve policies, procedures and practises to support the transition from education.

MEA council’s response to the enquiry was agreed at a recent meeting of the Policy and Resources committee on April 21. It notes that the Northern Trust’s learning disability teams provide services to people aged 18 and over with learning disabilities.

These include its Day Opportunities Programme, which offers almost 600 participants experiences in education, employment, leisure, volunteering and community involvement. Opportunities are also offered by the Northern Regional College, Carrick’s Kilcreggan Urban Farm and Garden Centre and Acceptable Enterprise Larne Ltd.

The report states that doing more to support young adults with learning disabilities, will be “a challenge” due to diminishing resources and service cuts. It suggests the development of a network of employment/voluntary service officers to engage with businesses, social enterprises and community groups. It also recommends the development of procurement procedures to promote public sector employment and ICT technology. Other suggestions involve creating social hubs for further education and training, reviewing transport provision and extending placement opportunities.

Alderman Gregg McKeen said: “The transfer process from the likes of Roddensvale needs to be streamlined to ensure the right resources are in place to give young people a hassle-free transfer.”