Disability support group, The Cope Foundation, has launched its first campaign to find long-term sustainable jobs for people with intellectual disabilities.
The charity’s chief executive, Colette Kelleher, appealed to employers last night to “open their doors, their hearts, and their minds” to people with an intellectual disability by getting involved in its ‘Grand Job’ initiative.
“We are asking the business community of Cork to stand with us in delivering paid jobs that will create truly inclusive workplaces,” she said.
Cope hopes to place 10 of its clients in paid employment by this time next year.
“Although 10 people will be the focus of the campaign this year, over 50 people supported by Cope Foundation have expressed interest in paid employment,” a spokesperson said.
“Many had a clear idea of what type of work they would like to do — spanning all types of work and disciplines.
“Some of the work people would like to do includes catering and, or restaurant work, hotel or bar work, supermarket and shop work, reception work, general office or administration work, portering, car valeting, warehouse operative and assembly work.
“It is clear from this list that many employers could benefit from having someone supported by Cope Foundation work in their business.”
Recent statistics show that people with intellectual disabilities find it difficult to get paid jobs. The 2011 census showed that the unemployment rate amongst disabled people was 30.8%.
The highest rate of unemployment (43.9%) was amongst those with a difficulty in learning, remembering or concentrating, followed by people with an intellectual disability.
Many have access to work experience through programmes such as the Irish Association of Supportive Employment and the Job Shadow Day. But economic factors and, in some cases, a lack of knowledge and slight fear prevents real, paid sustainable jobs becoming a reality.
The Cope Foundation said it hopes its ‘Grand Job’ initiative, which will see the charity matching its clients to the right jobs, will show that people with intellectual disabilities have lots of skills and talents, and with the right supports, can contribute enormously to the workplace.
— Cope Foundation (@CopeFoundation) May 25, 2015
The initiative is being supported by Cork Chamber, whose chief executive, Conor Healy, said it was delighted to be involved.
“Inclusive workplaces are beneficial to employers, employees and customers alike and we are looking forward to playing our part in finding paid employment for people with intellectual disabilities in Cork,” he said.
“I urge the businesses of Cork city and county to get involved over the next 12 months.” Information packs will be made available to employers and a series of events are planned to create awareness about the new drive.
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