Member Spotlight: Foothold

Read how Engineering charity Foothold has today launched a ground-breaking new programme for neurodiverse engineers, students and apprentices.

Launch of Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme opens up new opportunities for engineering community

Engineering charity Foothold has today launched a ground-breaking 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.

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 an estimated 820,000 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.”

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.[ii]

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 clear to see why this 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, 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.”

Neptune Energy’s CEO, Pete Jones, said:

“It has been our privilege to work with Foothold in recent years, culminating with the launch of the Differently Wired Hub. This will help create more opportunities for neurodiverse engineers to demonstrate to employers the unique strengths and skills that they possess.

“Our support for Foothold also mirrors our own commitment to making equality, diversity and inclusion core to our business because we want Neptune to be a place that welcomes, respects and values everyone.”

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, click here. You can find out more about the support Foothold offers to the engineering community over on their website.



  • Foothold is an independent charity supporting engineers worldwide, including members of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) since 1890. For more information visit:
  • Foothold offers mental health and wellbeing, care and disability and financial support for members of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and their families. Care and disability support is available to all engineers and their families, even if they’ve never been IET members.
  • Last year, Foothold spent £2.1m supporting people in 50 countries including financial grants, legal and career help, counselling and care, disability and digital wellbeing support
  • Case study of neurodiversity support by Foothold: Stuart’s story


Neptune Energy

  • Neptune Energy is an independent global E&P company with operations across Europe, North Africa and Asia Pacific. The business had production of 130,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2021 and 2P reserves at 31st December 2021 of 604 million barrels of oil equivalent. Neptune aims to store more carbon than is emitted from its operations and the use of its sold products by 2030. The Company, founded by Sam Laidlaw, is backed by CIC and funds advised by Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners.


[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

[ii] Taken from: Autism Research (2022) Nikita Javav and Vanessa H.Bal: Associations between co-occurring conditions and age of autism diagnosis.