Building sustainable supports for young unemployed men with intellectual disability through intergenerational mentoring at Men's Sheds

Disability Intellectual disability Mentoring Community-based social services Australia

People with intellectual disability (ID) often experience multiple disadvantages in education, work, health, community and social participation. The seeds of this lifelong multiple disadvantage are often sown during the transition to adulthood. Many young people with ID experience a sub-optimal transition due to limited access to community and employment networks, as well as a lack of sustainable supports and relationships outside the family.

International research about young people without a disability reveals that formal mentors can have important positive influences on this transition, for example in wellbeing and employment. Our feasibility research indicates that intergenerational mentoring holds promise for mentors to influence the social and economic trajectories of young adults with ID during this transition (Wilson et al., 2018). Men’s Sheds are ideally situated to support young adults with ID due to their unique activity-based mentoring context, as well as the potential to develop and expand social, employment and community networks (Cordier et al., 2016).

Men’s Sheds are the fastest growing grassroots community organisation in Australia, with nearly 15% of the more than 1,000 sheds already offering formal mentoring programs; thus, offering a socially inclusive approach. The National Disability Insurance Scheme has a clear emphasis on supporting people with disability to access mainstream services and developing costeffective community-based approaches that fosters social and economic participation are important.

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