A DISABLED young Coventry woman has spoken of her fears over Council proposals to scrap job support services for disabled and mentally ill people.
Heidi Crowter, who has Down’s Syndrome, has said she is worried about her future after Coventry City Council threatened to cut funding to The Employment Support Service (TESS) earlier this year.
And following last week’s petition calling on Councillors to save award-winning The Employment Support Service (TESS), Heidi has told The Observer her story in the hopes of highlighting the plight of people like her who could be affected by the cuts.
Despite having gained NVQ Level 1 qualifications in Hairdressing and Customer Service from Heart of England Training, the 20-year-old Lime Tree Park resident relies on the help of services like TESS to find and secure employment.
Heidi, who is passionate about working in hairdressing, argues Council proposals to cut disabled services is ‘really selfish’ and highlights their uncaring attitude towards people like herself finding a job.
She added: “By the council shutting this down it is making me feel really scared for what the future will hold for me.
“I think the employment support service is fantastic because it not only finds employment it helps people stay in employment.
“Overall I think the council should not shut this service down.”
TESS offers disabled and mentally ill people a vital helping hand when facing the job market – finding employment and work experience and offering coaching on the job to help them understand and carry out tasks.
But after Coventry City Council announcing the service could be axed, arguing it could no longer afford the £300,000 a year cost, lobbyists presented Councillors with a petition signed by 2,500 people urging them to find the cash to keep the service open for business.
Following a work experience placement at Boots in Central Six Shopping Centre, Heidi is also due to start a Council-run supported internship at University Hospital Coventry & Warwickshire (UHCW) in September.
But Heidi and her mother are concerned the scheme could also be under threat if Council cuts go ahead.
Describing her daughter as ‘incredibly driven’, Liz Crowter, said the continuation of TESS is vital to keep encouraging and helping disabled people into jobs and voluntary work.
She added: “Heidi wants nothing more than to be a valued member of the community – earning her own money and living independently.
“With her qualifications, Heidi could work as a junior hairdresser in a salon, but not many places seem open to hiring her full time.
“Without the support of schemes like TESS finding her work, she could keep doing one course after another without ever being given the opportunity of a real job.”