Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

Award-winning Colleague Box encourages other businesses to give young people with disabilities an opportunity to flourish in workplace

Award-winning Colleague Box encourages other businesses to give young people with disabilities an opportunity to flourish in workplace

An award-winning business is encouraging others to support young people with learning disabilities after offering Tanveer Binning a work placement.

Colleague Box, the corporate gifting company set up by husband-and-wife Adam and Natalie Bamford four years ago, has initially welcomed Tanveer to The Smile Factory on a part-time voluntary basis to support the development of his vocational skills.

Initially, Tanveer will be accompanied at Colleague Box by a member of staff from Transition2, a specialist learning provision in Derby for young people with learning difficulties and Autism Spectrum Conditions.

But, as his confidence grows, he will be encouraged to become increasingly independent in his travels and the work that he does for Colleague Box.

Natalie, a former teaching assistant who worked with children who have special needs, says that more businesses need to take a chance on young people with learning difficulties like Tanveer.

She said:

“Tanveer is very hard-working and a pleasure to work with. He has been making up boxes ready to be filled with products for our clients, such as the new onboarding boxes that we are putting together for clients Cooper Parry.

“It was important for us to work with Transition2 to find a suitable candidate and, for us, Tanveer fits the bill.

“Putting the boxes together is an important job, and we’re really grateful for the job that Tanveer is doing. It’s a job with a repetitive nature, and that suits Tanveer. It’s a huge help to us.”

Transition2 was set up in September 2012 with the aim of providing bespoke and meaningful transition programmes that allow young learning-disabled people to segue into opportunities in life as active citizens.

The organisation is committed to supporting young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 with severe learning difficulties, learning disabilities and/or Autism.

According to government statistics published in December 2023, just 4.8% of adults with a learning disability are in employment nationally, and in Derby this rate is even lower. Work placements such as the one Tanveer is undertaking at Colleague Box help young people to develop vocational skills in preparation to enter the workplace in a paid capacity but also help to build a more Disability Confident workforce.

Alex Newman, the Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator at Transition2, said: 

"There is still much more that can be done to address barriers to employment; Transition2 is working hard with stakeholders across Derby City Council who are committed to developing the employment pathway for young people with SEND. Getting a job is also just the start, as employees with learning difficulties may require bespoke follow-on job coaching support to sustain their job in the face of challenges that those without a disability may be able to navigate independently.

“It is great to see that companies such as Colleague Box are giving young people like Tanveer the opportunity to develop their skills, showcase their assets and help to promote independence.”

Colleague Box was set up four years ago by Natalie and her husband Adam, to spread happiness through letterbox gift boxes when the UK was locked down due to Covid.

The company turned over £1.3m in its first six months and works with major businesses including Pilgrim’s Shared Services, which provides cross-functional support to Pilgrim’s Food Masters, Pilgrim’s UK and Northern Ireland poultry-giant Moy Park.

Colleague Box also works with companies closer to home such as Cooper Parry, recycling and waste management firm Ward and Derbyshire FA.

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