€1.5 million Ability to Work Fund awarded to 4 bodies

State Street and Rethink Ireland have announced the awardees of the €1.5 million Ability to Work Fund.

Four not-for-profit organisations in Ireland have been have awarded €1.5 million from the Ability to Work Fund by State Street and Rethink Ireland.

The organisations were awarded the funds for the work developing the talents and skills of Ireland’s forgotten workforce, giving employment opportunities to those living with a disability.

Launched in November 2019 by State Street Foundation and Rethink Ireland, the Ability to Work Fund is supported by the Department of Social Protection through its Dormant Accounts Fund.

It aims to reach 500 people with disabilities across the country and empower 250 people to progress along pathways to employment.

“As an employer, we value the qualities that make our employees unique and we know that an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce makes us stronger and more successful”

It recognises that having a job and enabling a person with a disability to become more financially and socially independent benefits the individual, their families, their employers and society at large.

Commenting on the announcement of today’s Awardees, Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Social Protection and Community and Rural Development said, “I am delighted that my Department is supporting The Ability to Work Fund. It is an important initiative which will provide a pathway and supports into work for people living with a disability and I congratulate the Awardees, Rethink Ireland and State Street on today’s announcement.”

Echoing the minster’s thoughts, Tadhg Young, Ireland country head at State Street added; “Firstly I would like to congratulate today’s Awardees, it’s great to see the incredible work of each organisation in helping individuals with disabilities gain access to employment.

Pictured at The Green Kitchen Café & Garden Centre in Walkinstown are Vicki Hogan, Austin O’Sullivan & Eddie Moore. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

“As an employer, we value the qualities – experiences, interests and capabilities – that make our employees unique and we know that an inclusive culture and a diverse workforce makes us stronger and more successful.

“By empowering people with disabilities to gain employment, we are directly contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of our local communities by promoting equality of opportunities in education and sustainable employment for everyone in society.” 

The four Awardees are:

WALK and its subsidiary, Walkinstown Green Social Enterprises (WGSE)

This not-for-profit organisation provides education, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, autism, and other barriers to employment through the operation of the Green Kitchen Café and the Green Garden.

Through these programmes, WGSE provides a bridge to mainstream employment and has supported people into work with 51 different employers including the Houses of the Oireachtas, Compass at Google, Facebook, Accenture, Tallaght University Hospital and Costa Coffee.

Employability Pathways

Employability Pathways is an innovative employability model, set up by the Dublin Simon Community. It caters for the most vulnerable individuals in society, namely people experiencing homelessness who are also living with a disability.

The model focuses on individual pathways for their clients, ensuring that clients’ specific needs are met, and their personal goals are achieved. Since 2016, they have helped 28 individuals complete a Level 5 QQI Health and Fitness course through their in-house gym.

Not So Different

Not So Different promotes inclusion and equality of people who are neurodiverse through employment and education.

NSD Creative Hub is Irelands’ first Neurodiversity simulated workplace environment where individuals’ innate skills and talents acquired through NSD training are showcased to employers.

Since 2019, 70 students received employment supports of which 54 engaged in professional accredited training and 35 in workplace initiatives.

The UCC Disability Support Service mentoring programme

The programme matches students registered with the DSS to a professional mentor for an academic year and provides students with a meaningful opportunity to develop their employability skills through regular meetings with their mentor in the workplace. The project also supports employers to develop a better understanding of disability issues.

For the 2019/2020 academic year, the programme ran 71 mentoring partnerships with nine companies involved.

Pictured at the official announcement is Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Social Protection and Community and Rural Development, Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, Tadhg Young, Ireland Country Head, State Street and Sharon Keogh, Báirbre Dolan, Dublin Simon Community. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 11 August, 2020