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Equal Access

Partnership information



The aim of the Equal Access Development Partnership (DP) was to support collaborative activity to combat discrimination experienced by individuals and groups in the labour market.


The overarching objectives of the Development Partnership were to:
  • influence European, national and local policy on the introduction and wider application of supported employment and other similar approaches to achieving entry into work and continued employment for excluded groups.

  • develop ways of changing employers' perceptions and behaviour and employers' policies, practices and procedures with respect to disadvantaged groups

  • develop new ways of making disadvantaged individuals job ready (through-care) and supported into sustainable employment (aftercare)

  • develop appropriate standards and benchmarking tools to measure and achieve effective integration of disadvantaged individuals into employment

  • ensure ongoing quality of employment and training opportunities

Equal Access delivered a range of activities during Round 1 of the Equal Community Initiative (May 2002-May 2005). Activity spanned research and pilot employment programmes to facilitate access to the labour market for disadvantaged and disengaged groups. The Partnership was the largest Theme A DP in the UK, with 14 Partners delivering 17 projects. Domestically, a range of activities were undertaken across four key themes:
  • Understanding and developing partnership models both within and between local labour markets

  • Developing effective relationships with the private sector

  • Developing new models of intervention in working with disadvantaged groups (including the supported employment model)

  • Investigating the role of Welfare Benefits as a barrier to employment
Empowerment of partners within the DP was a leading principle of the DP and underpinned the work of the DP.

Main Outcomes

The domestic evaluation of activity highlighted some of the outcomes across the four main objectives. Some of the Partnership’s achievements are listed below
  • The programme supported the development of the Joined up for Jobs model which is a good example of a leading edge partnership working between ‘employability services’ and supporting ‘specialist services’ which focus on specific barriers (in this case, homelessness and addiction) faced by particularly disadvantaged clients.

  • Although not a new model, the application of the Full Employment Area approach (pioneered in Glasgow) to Paisley and Renfrewshire represents a successful transfer of a tested approach to a new situation.

  • The Wise Move has developed a common employability framework, which is used at the earliest stage of engagement with clients by all agencies involved.

  • Wise Move has also developed a Quality Measurement and Evaluation Tool to measure the quality and range of employability provision across a range of agencies, enable evaluation and reveal expertise and best practice. It is envisaged that strategic use of this tool over a local authority area will highlight partnership potential among agencies within an area.

  • The supported employment project was inspired by the experience of the Basque partners and involved learning from that experience to develop group employment opportunities with larger employers. Small teams of people with disabilities were created to undertake specific areas of production.

  • The lack of direct involvement by policy makers at the pspecifically between those offering employment related services and those offering specialist services which focused on specific barriers which – among other things – prevented a client from making further progress towards work. Approaches such as the Full Employment Area and Joined up for Jobs were therefore of growing interest.



Lead partner

Transnational partnerships


Linda Aird, North Ayrshire Council,

Equal theme

Facilitating access

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