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Launch of Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme, by charity Foothold

Published: 25/10/2022

Team at Foothold - an independent charity supporting engineersEngineering charity Foothold has launched a new programme of support with funding from Neptune Energy, designed to help empower neurodiverse engineers, students and apprentices to achieve their full potential and thrive in both their professional and personal lives. Foothold is an independent charity supporting engineers worldwide, including members of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) since 1890

The programme includes a ‘Differently Wired Hub’, an online resource offering expert advice, information and content on a variety of neurodiverse conditions – such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Direct support is also available for engineering students and apprentices, ranging from access to a formal diagnosis, to counselling support to help them understand their feelings about their diagnosis, and financial grants to fund assistive equipment or help with day to day living costs.

Employers in the sector will also be able to access information and guidance on how to empower their neurodiverse colleagues to thrive and support the success of their business.

The programme has been developed following an upswing in calls for neurodiversity support to the charity, with research also showing a greater incidence of neurodiversity among engineers more broadly. With 1 in 7 people thought to show some form of neurodivergence worldwide, there are estimated to be over 8000,000 neurodiverse individuals employed in the industry in the UK alone [i].                     

Foothold CEO, Jane Petit, said: “We’re proud to be launching this innovative programme today to recognise, celebrate and support the contributions that neurodiverse people bring to the engineering community.

Every day, many neurodiverse engineers face challenges and barriers which prevent them from accessing the opportunities that neurotypical people take for granted. In particular, we know that this leads significant numbers of students and apprentices to drop out of their courses – which has a knock-on effect for the entire engineering workforce.

“By providing this programme of support for both established and aspiring engineers, we hope to build a world where everyone in the industry is empowered to make the most of their unique talents and capabilities. We’d like to thank Neptune Energy for funding the development of the programme, and helping us deliver this much-needed support for the engineering community.”

Stuart Redgard, a neurodivergent engineer ambassador for the programme, said: “Having received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in May 2022 at the age of 55, I’ve often felt very alone during my neurodiversity journey. But knowing that I now have people I can turn to and who won’t judge me has made a world of difference.

“That’s why this new support from Foothold gives me hope for neurodiverse engineers like me to be empowered to engineer their way, and take advantage of the same opportunities as neurotypical community members – no matter what stage they’re at in their career.”

The Differently Wired Hub is freely accessible to anyone in the engineering community, whether they have been diagnosed, support a neurodivergent individual, or simply want to learn more about neurodiversity.

Students and apprentices need to apply to access tailored support, with eligible individuals able to take full advantage of the programme offering.

To join the Differently Wired Hub for free and find out more about the Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme, visit the Foothold website, where you can also find out more about the support Foothold offers to the engineering community.

[i] Taken from: Engineering Council (2020). Mapping the UK’s Engineering Workforce. London: Engineering Council AND British Medical Bulletin (2020). Neurodiversity at work: a biopsychosocial model and the impact on working adults. 135(1), pp.108–125