A WOKINGHAM man has founded a charity that supports young people with autism, and its first 12-week programme launched yesterday.
Nic Lander, who has three neurodivergent daughters, created the Kimel Foundation last September over concerns about the number of people with autism in employment.
In 2016, the National Autistic Society found that just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid employment.
Mr Lander said this statistic worries him, when he thinks of his daughters.
Driven by a desire to help the “local people find lasting employment”, he launched the Wokingham-based charity.
“We have a 12-week programme that focuses on personal development, and six weeks of job coaching,” he said.
It works in collaboration with the employer, to find jobs that are right for everyone.
“I firmly believe that there is a job out there for everybody,” he said.
The company has also developed an app that keeps communication flowing between employer, the young person and the foundation, often setting out clear expectations and tasks.
“It’s all part of the package we’ve created,” Mr Lander said.
It also means the foundation stays in contact with young people, once they begin a new job.
“People can stay with Kimel as long as they like,” he added. “The app stays with the person while they’re employed there. It’s about making people feel comfortable.”
So far, the charity has found links with Just Around the Corner a Wokingham charity provides personal learning and development therapies for children and young people. It also runs the shop JAC In A Box on Central Walk, in Wokingham town centre.
Mr Lander said Chris Pape, who is heavily involved with JAC, is now the Kimel Foundation’s employability skills mentor.
“Chris is incredible,” he said. “She does some of our interventions, along with Pat Meadowcroft, who focuses on youth engagement.”
While JAC is a great stepping stone for employment, Mr Lander said the Kimel Foundation is actively seeking “kind hearted local business” to help give young neurodivergent people the opportunity to work in the community.
It is also aiming to open a zero waste cafe in the town centre, which will act as a “meeting point” for the community.
“It’ll be a great way to provide hospitality experience,” Mr Lander said.
“We’re hoping to work with Share Wokingham on it.”
Mr Lander has also founded Kimel Solutions, which provides continual personal development (CPD) accredited training with neurodivergent people, workplaces and schools.
It runs courses on neurodiversity first aid, accommodating autistic people and unearthing autistic talent.
“We want to help companies, who know they need to do something, but don’t know what,” Mr Lander said. “It’s about opening employer’s eyes , giving a bit of understanding, and being more respectful to each other.”
He added: “We’re trying to change the world bit by bit, and make it more accepting.”
For more information, visit: kimelfoundation.com