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Launch of Foothold’s Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme

Foothold is a charity that exists to support engineers and their families to face life’s challenges – from health and wellbeing to legal and career support. Between 2020 and 2021, Foothold delivered support to 1,275 engineers across 50 countries.

With one in seven people worldwide considered to be neurodiverse, and an estimated 820,000 neurodiverse engineers working in the UK alone, this ground-breaking programme will help to ensure that every engineer has the opportunity to make the most of their unique talents and capabilities.

It includes Foothold’s flagship Differently Wired Hub, a free online resource that offers expert advice, information and content on a range of neurodiverse conditions – including ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Engineering students and apprentices will also be able to apply for tailored direct support, such as access to a formal diagnosis of a neurodiverse condition, counselling support to help them understand their feelings about their condition, and financial grants to fund assistive equipment or help with day-to-day living costs.

The programme also offers benefits for engineering employers and managers, with resources and insights on how they can support neurodiverse colleagues to perform at their best, and unleash their full potential to enhance business success.

The Differently Wired Hub is freely available for anyone in the engineering community, whether you have been diagnosed, support a neurodivergent individual, or simply want to learn more about neurodiversity. You can join the hub for free by visiting the dedicated area on Foothold’s website.

The programme has been developed in response to a recent upswing in calls to the charity for neurodiversity support. Research also shows there is a greater incidence of neurodivergence amongst engineers more widely.

Foothold’s 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.

“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.”

More recent research has shown that if you receive a diagnosis for autism over the age of 21, you’re nearly three times as likely to suffer from psychiatric-related illnesses in later life.

And with much-established neurodiversity support depending on a diagnosis – which is often difficult to access due to extensive waiting times, cost and a lack of awareness about neurodiverse conditions – it’s easy to see why the programme, combined with Foothold’s wider support offering, will play a key role in enhancing the health and wellbeing of the engineering community.

Stuart Redgard, neurodivergent engineer and an 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.”

If you are an engineering student or apprentice and believe you may be neurodivergent, you’ll need to apply to access Foothold’s tailored support. Find out more on Foothold’s website.