Bridge to Work

Bridge to Work will narrow the employment gap for young disabled people in the capital.

A new £3.3million scheme, which will open up a wealth of new employment opportunities for young disabled Londonershas been launched by the City of London Corporation.

Bridge to Work, funded by City Bridge Trust, the City Corporation’s charitable arm, will narrow the employment gap for young disabled people in the capital with financial backing for organisations tackling the issue.

Launched today at Parliament’s Speaker’s House,  Bridge To Work was revealed to an audience of charities and businesses from across the capital.

Employment rates have risen steadily in London over the last ten yearsHowever, only half of working-age disabled people in the capital are in employment, compared to nearly four out of five non-disabled people.

Over the next five years the Bridge to Work Programme will provide funding for projects which offer employability support for young disabled people, and strengthen links between employers and the disabled community. Projects will include specialist, personalised support for young people looking for work, including work experience, advice on employment rights, research and strategic policy work, job coaching and the development of an online training resource for job seekers.

As part of the £3.3million funding package, City Bridge Trust will fund Leonard Cheshire Disability to help young disabled Londoners into jobs with a £350,000 bursary scheme for paid internships.

The initiative, called ChangeLondon, will allow Leonard Cheshire Disability to award bursaries of up to £4,000 per person on behalf of City Bridge Trust to London’s small and medium sized companies and charities. This will provide paid work experience  to young disabled Londoners.

Alison Gowman, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“Research shows that at the age of 26, disabled people are nearly four times more likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people. We want to open up new opportunities for disabled people in work experience and paid internships to radically change these statistics.

“The UK economy cannot afford to overlook such a significant segment of the workforce. A pool of talent, experience and new perspectives which can help companies to grow by reflecting more fully the diverse range of customers they serve.

We recognise that the barriers to employment faced by disabled people can be multiple and complex, but many challenges can be overcome with the right support. City Bridge Trust is fully committed to tackling disadvantage across the capital and making London a fairer and better place to live.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability CEONeil Heslopsaid: “The employment figures for young disabled people are a continuing cause for major concern. We’re delighted to be partnering with City Bridge Trust, and to work with small and medium sized businesses and charities to narrow the disability employment gap across London.”

The organisations awarded City Bridge Trust grants for the programme are: 

  • Action on Disability/ Inclusion London – £775,000 to deliver specialist and personalised approaches to employment support, brokerage with employers  and skills development, as well as research, evaluation and strategic policy work.
  • Action for Kids – £250,000 to offer support through job coaching, employment brokering, work related learning and travel training to young people with moderate to severe learning disabilities.
  • National Autistic Society (NAS) – £199,000 to support young Londoners with autism into employment through the development of an online training resource which will support job seekers to build their employment skills and confidence in finding work. NAS will also inform and educate job centres on how to best support autistic job seekers to find work.
  • Muscular Dystrophy UK – £276,000 to provide internal work experience placements and offer advice and support on employment rights and opportunities targeted particularly at young people in universities, clinics and colleges across London
  • Royal Mencap – £350,000 to provide a support service for job seekers and employees with learning difficulties, as well as a programme of support for employers.
  • Whizz-Kidz – £384,000 to introduce and roll out a specialist work experience model for young people with disabilities across 18 local authorities in London


The Bridge To Work programme aims to use learning from these projects to better inform government and other funders in getting more disabled people into work. Following the recent release of a green paper from the Department for Work and Pensions which examines the disability employment gap, it is hoped that this work funded by the Trust will have a positive influence on future government policy.

The programme has three main aims:

  • Supporting disabled people aged 16-30 into paid employment.
  • Sustaining disabled people in paid employment – through advice, support and developing good practice.
  • Strengthening the links between potential employers and disabled young Londoners, including improving recruitment processes.


City Bridge Trust provides grants totalling around £20 million per year towards charitable activity benefiting Greater London.  The Trust has awarded around 7,700 grants totalling over £370 million since it first began in 1995. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, tackling disadvantage across the Capital. City Bridge Trust is committed to making London a fairer place to work and live.

All ChangeLondon placements will be for a minimum of 200 hours a year within a 12-month period. The aim is these paid internships will lead to permanent employment opportunities across London.