Making it Work – Newry man an inspiration to others

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Friday 12 March 2021 7:00

THE Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment are delighted to officially launch the ‘Making it Work’ publication .

The new publication highlights the individual experiences of six disabled people who sought employment support services from a range of organisations to help them secure and retain employment. All of those who participated in this project have worked or trained in Northern Ireland throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, some as key workers.

Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission said:

“Our ‘Making it Work’ booklet highlights the much needed skills and abilities that disabled people can offer to our workforce and the employment support services that are available to them to help them into work.

“The individual stories used throughout the publication highlight the positive action and reasonable adjustments that some employers have put in place to ensure disabled people can thrive in their jobs. The stories included are real and personal and they will be used in new training sessions for employment advisors which will be delivered in partnership by colleagues from the Commission, Department for Communities, NIUSE and organisations from across the disability sector, the sessions start this week.

“I hope these real life experiences inspire others, individuals, advisors and employers, to enhance our workforce with more and better jobs for disabled people.”

Norman Sterritt, Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment also commented on the campaign and said: “We have worked closely with the Equality Commission and organisations who offer Supported Employment services to produce this publication. We fully welcome their support and input to highlight the positive case studies and range of employment support services available across Northern Ireland.

“We know that employing people with disabilities makes good business sense, not only are employers getting an employee with the skills and abilities to do the job but they are increasing diversity and reflecting their local communities in the workplace. We hope this publication and its directory will be widely used to ensure that disabled people are given the same opportunities to access, maintain and progress in employment.”

Colin’s story

Colin thoroughly enjoys his job. He is a Supported Employment Officer for Disability Action’s Job Match programme. He thrives helping people with disabilities find and maintain jobs – he absolutely knows the value of the work because he too has previously participated in theprogramme.

Colin hails from Newry, is a proud father and a lifetime supporter of Liverpool. Hewas a lorry driver for almost 20 years. In2006 his life changed dramatically when a fall left him requiring surgery for a broken back and the devastating news that hecould never drive a lorry again.

Speaking about his experience Colin said:

“Up until November 2006 I’d led a pretty standard life, but the fall changed all that.

Initially I focused on my sons as my inspiration to get me back on my feet and that worked. But I couldn’t return to the freight business driving lorries and that was really hard.

I’d always worked and been financially independent. Having that taken away from me was difficult to say theleast.

“Eventually I decided it was time to getback to work. I started to search for jobsmyself and that was challenging. I soon realised that I needed new skills and training if I was going to be in a position tocompete for any of the vacancies thatinterested me.

I enrolled in a computer class and gained a Level 3 Social Science qualification and was a volunteer with the REAL Network through Disability Action and this really boosted by confidence.

“I referred myself to the Job Match project and was assigned a Supported Employment Officer who helped me to identify skill gaps and barriers to employment. I then signed up with the Clanrye Group’s support services and completed further IT skills training, while I was doing this, a vacancy was advertised at Job Match with Disability Action.

“I applied for the position, it was very different to anything I’d done before but I was confident I could deliver for others and my lived experience was my ace card.

I’ve been employed in Job Match since 2016 – I love my job, I get to help others, many of whom have acquired disabilities and I completely understand how they feel – its fantastic to see them getting into jobs and succeeding too.

“I never would have thought 20 years ago that I’d do anything other than drive lorries, but here I am in a completely different career and I couldn’t be happier!”

Anne Reid, Job Match Manager, Disability Action said: “Collie’s lived experience of disability means that he can share his own experience to help participants on their journey towards employment as he is aware of the challenges and barriers they face in their daily lives, and while accessing employment opportunities.

Collie has a real empathy for his participants and always goes the extra mile to ensure they are fully supported.”

Job Match is part-funded through the NI European Social Fund Programme 2014-20 and the Department for the Economy. Funding is also provided by Department for Communities. Job Match is delivered by Disability Actionin partnership with Department for

Communities and the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment

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