Journey Enterprises

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Journey Enterprises is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

CEO Elspeth McPherson
Stephanie (client) and Hub Manager
Sarah Smith showcase Journey’s Job
Coaching programme
Bringing communities together through an ethos of “seeing
learning ability”, Journey Enterprises work with individuals
with complex conditions such as Down’s, Williams and
Prader–Willi syndromes; cerebral palsy; fragile X syndrome; and
autism. Fifty per cent of its clients have Down’s syndrome, a
significantly higher ratio than the condition prevalence, which
speaks to the organisation’s reputation within the field. CEO
Elspeth McPherson explains more.
With a vision to enable people with complex needs to live happy, socially inclusive and
fulfilling lives in their own community, we have worked through years of significant
health, social care, education and welfare transition, changing the landscape of third-
sector service provision and partnerships. We remain regional and community based,
working from three wellbeing bases and through small social enterprises in the North
East. Now hosting 171 clients aged from 17 to over 70, our focus is on enabling people
with learning disabilities to gain the skills and experience to live and work successfully.
Values at heart
At the heart of our delivery are five key values: accountability, person-centred
delivery, openness, inclusivity and creativity. Shaping all aspects of operations
and practice, the application of the central tenet of personalisation across an
organisational culture demonstrates how disability practice has driven innovation.
The same philosophy has been applied to our service differentiation. Working in a
context of poor employment outcomes for people with learning disability – England has
an average of six per cent, and the figure drops to a low of 1.2per cent in areas that
»CEO: Elspeth McPherson
»Established in 1983
»Based in Hexham, Newcastle
and Bishop Auckland
»Services: Life and work skills
training for people with
complex learning disability
»No. of employees: 25
»IIP, BILD (PBS) and Disability
Confident quality marks
Journey Enterprises
Highlighting best practice
we serve – we have pioneered a new
model of employability programming.
Underpinned by initial funding from
the European Social Fund, the Job
Coaching Service has successfully
achieved 63 per cent progression into
volunteering or employment for clients
on its programme.
This unique model has worked
through transforming its established
relationship with care managers
and social care commissioners,
proposing the transfer of care and
support packages, and moving days
of purchased “group day service” to
hours of one-on-one job coaching
and work experience. This shift in
design gives clients opportunities to
gain and practise work skills while also
working on health management, daily
living skills and travel training, which
has resulted in client aspirations for
working lives and reductions in social
care expenditure.
The discernible difference from existing
models is the blend of part day service
retention combined with part-time
work transition. By keeping some of
the allocated care packages in place,
people with learning disability are able
to maintain friendships and continue
to have support for health and life skills
development as their lives change.
Supporting not only their clients
but local employers, the specialists
who provide these care packages
can quickly make recommendations
and signpost to additional services
so that work outcomes are
The power of people assessed by
the welfare system as non-work
capable, to transform and contribute
economically, is mirrored in the
feedback from local employers. This
has focused on the positive cultural
and behavioural changes that
appointing someone with learning
disability has driven in their staff teams.
Key partners
We were a key partner in the
Community Partners initiative, the
Department for Work and Pensions’
flagship programme following
Improving Lives. Regional job centres
in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear,
Durham, and Tees Valley were
the next stage in developing and
extending the initiative. Our clients
have given training presentations at
local job centres, providing insights
into working aspirations for people
with complex needs. Job coaches have
worked to show how person-centred
delivery can work successfully across
This collaboration would not have
been possible without the insights
gained from all participants, from work
coaches to disability employer adviser
consultants, and from lead partnership
managers to employer advisers. We
have been greatly encouraged by
our experience inside DWP through
the Community Partners Programme
to build best practice in supporting
disability work outcomes.
Reciprocating this partnership,
we welcomed Job Centre Plus
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear’s
senior leadership team as volunteers at
Acomb Hub, Hexham, in the autumn
of 2019.
Fit for Work: Paul (client)
focuses on his boxing
skills as part of Journey’s
popular sports & exercise
The power of
assessed by
the welfare
system as
capable, to
transform and
is mirrored in
the feedback
from local
Key drivers
As we move forward, our key drivers
are health, ageing and employability.
For the past five years, we have led a
focus strategy to increase the numbers
of young disabled people in service,
achieved by successful partnerships
with special schools, colleges and
transitions teams. The priority of this
strategy is working together to address
incrementally the barriers people with
learning disabilities will face during
their life span. Central to this work is
enabling health and wellbeing, ensuring
inclusion and equality of access across
both service and sector provision.
The Transforming Care agenda has
shaped local health and wellbeing
strategies, and we see both gaps
and opportunities for our services
to flourish. A priority is to increase
the number of people with learning
disabilities registered with GPs and to
ensure not only accessibility for primary
health prevention and screening
services such as learning disability health
checks, but also accessible signposting
for wider health and wellbeing services.
Key conditions we support, such as
Down’s syndrome, have unusually high
prevalence rates for dementia in the
region, and we want to ensure our
services are shaped to better prepare
and support clients who will be ageing
with both long-term conditions and
acquired comorbidity of acute illnesses.
Moving forward
In the past year, we worked on a new
assessment framework to measure
client progression across both life skills
and employability. This addressed a
shortfall in an assessment framework
fit for application across the service,
breaking social, communication,
physical, mental and emotional skills
into assessable criteria. The resulting
“I Can” framework, for which IP was
granted during 2019, enables specialist
staff to plan and evaluate skills
progression matched either to each
client’s care support or education and
healthcare plan, or to their claimant
commitment objectives. We hope to
market the framework commercially
for learning disability service providers,
potentially as an app.
Our new website – commissioned by
Northumberland-based marketeers
Retox, artist Dave Bull and
photographer Chris Thompson – takes
a Marvel cartoon theme, chosen by
clients, and provides a very different
platform. Uniquely, the website has
been designed in “easy read”. Text has
been written for a reading age of no
higher than 12 years, and an average
of 11 years.
Following the website launch, our
next aim is to work on a zero-footprint
initiative, in partnership with small,
local like-minded entrepreneurs.
In a world of food poverty, we will
develop a project that brings together
local suppliers, creating a chain of
work opportunities for people of
Central to this
work is
health and
inclusion and
equality of
access across
both service
and sector
Specialist Life Skills
Coach, Fatima El-Jellaoui,
recently settled in the
UK, supports Raju (client)
to re-explore the world
after Covid-19 Shielding

This article was sponsored by Journey Enterprises. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy