Pathways Academy, a programme to give disabled people the skills to start a career in inclusive design and access, has won best career development initiative at the Women in Housing Awards.
Just three years after its launch in 2020, Pathways has already proven instrumental in supporting young disabled Londoners into work with 67% of the 40 pathways graduates now working in inclusion-related roles.
The training programme is run by inclusive design and access specialist Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE) which is part of Habinteg Housing Association. CAE secured funding for the programme from independent charitable funder City Bridge Trust, via its Bridge to Work initiative.
The nine-month Academy provides students with training to develop their knowledge and skills in access and disability awareness in the built environment.
Students learnt technical inclusive design skills such as audits, website accessibility, housing standards and wayfinding in online and in-person lessons. They also receive practical experience of report writing, presenting and how to start out as an access and inclusion consultant.
Past student Aisling Gallagher, who was offered an access and inclusion role as an Agent for Change at a theatre company in East London, said: “Even though access consultancy has been something I’ve been interested in for a long time, it wasn’t until I joined Pathways Academy that I understood the steps I needed to take to do the job well and become an accredited consultant.”
CAE’s Head of Business Development, Fara Muneer, said: “This is a fantastic recognition of the impact of Pathways with over two thirds of our trainees now working in inclusion related roles. Involving disabled people in the design and awareness of an inclusive built environment is the only way we will see a step change in removing barriers in society.”
City Bridge Trust Chairman, Giles Shilson, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support this award-winning scheme, which has had a significant impact not just on supporting disabled people into work but ensuring their experience and skills are helping to make our built environment more inclusive.”
The 2023 Women in Housing Awards took place on Monday 26 May at Manchester Central. It celebrates leaders, innovators and change-makers across the housing sector.