Business leaders with bold plans to create more employment opportunities for disabled people have won funding to grow and develop their ventures

14 social entrepreneurs from across the UK have won funding awards from £5,000 to £15,000 as part of a programme which aims to close the disability employment gap through the creation of new quality jobs, skills and training opportunities for disabled people.

The media, film and creative industries are growing rapidly, with one in six jobs in London in the creative sector.

However, there are still huge barriers to entry in and opportunities are frequently given to those with existing personal connections.

Research from the Creative Diversity Network found that disabled people are significantly under-represented across all genres in the broadcasting sector. Whilst disabled people make up 18% of the population, they make up only 6.2% of scripted roles and 5% of those working off-screen.

Many social entrepreneurs in our autumn cohort are tackling these challenges and inequalities to transform the creative industries.

Run in partnership with disability equality charity Scope and UnLtd - the foundation for social entrepreneurs - the Closing the Disability Employment Gap programme has taken on its second cohort of award winners this autumn.

Disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed than non-disabled people, and while Government figures have shown falling unemployment rates in recent years, the disability employment gap – the difference in the rate of employment of disabled and non-disabled people – has stayed at around 30 per cent for the last ten years. A Scope report found that a rise of five per cent in the disability employment rate would lead to an increase in GDP of £23 billion by 2030.

Award-winners from the programme

Kippie: Kippie is a Community Interest Company that uses the process of designing and making computer games, as an educational experience to teach creative skills. Katherine Rowlandson and her team were included in Nesta's list of 50 New Radicals.

They have recently focused on helping young adults with learning disabilities make their own computer games. They will use their Do It Award to run a pilot programme to recruit and train adults who have a learning disability to in turn help deliver their workshops. This training would include learning design-thinking methodology, the principles of game design and graphic design, and software used to make games.

ONE LAB CIC: ONEBYME is a gender fluid, urban lifestyle brand that is gaining international traction. Elsa Ellies, and Miles Dunphy co-founded ONELAB CIC as a creative platform within their business, to empower children and adults with special educational needs and disabilities to find their voice in fashion entrepreneurship. ONELAB is closing the disability employment gap by offering practical design training, culminating in the launch of each person’s commercial fashion collection, sold internationally.

Last year ONELAB received a Do It Award and which enabled them to train a total of 22 residents of Tower Hamlets who made commercial products sold in their shop. Building on that success, their 2019 Grow It Award will help them add new features, such as walkaway design and prints, corporate away-days and other lines.

Ability Post-Production Academy: Nigel G Honey, Lead Trainer, and founder of Ability Post-Production Academy was told he would never be a film editor because of his invisible disability. He went on to edit films for Cannes, Raindance, Edinburgh and BAFTA. Now his social venture Ability Post Production Academy passes on those skills and trains disabled people in post-production editing, and the latest industry software. They will be particularly working with young people with visible and invisible disabilities, also helping with their confidence, team work and communication skills. There’s a real skills shortage in Scotland for editors, so Nigel has an opportunity to change the industry with new partnerships with broadcasters.