Within this profile, I would like to tell you a few things about myself, and my journey through & involvement with supported employment to date. I am 37 years old. I live in the city of Derry in the North of Ireland. I am something of a Disability activist and I advocate strongly for the rights of persons with disabilities. My hobbies include swimming, cinema and singing!
I am a social work graduate, with an honours degree in Psychology. Once my studies were complete, I found myself Job seeking. I found it difficult to source work independently. I found I was facing barriers to employment due to my disability. These included lack of reasonable adjustments during the recruitment & selection process, lack of understanding of the employers on how to implement reasonable adjustments and positive action, throughout the recruitment process, and my own lack of knowledge regarding my own rights as person with a disability, in relation to employment.
As a result, I registered as a participant on the Job Match Project. This program adopts the principles of the Supported Employment Model to assist persons with disabilities into employment, also providing in work support. With the support of Job Match, I began to realise that my strength and passion lay in supporting persons with disabilities to overcome barriers to employment. As a result, I began working as a volunteer on the Employment Advocacy Service. This is a peer led service, delivered by disabled people, for disabled people. This projects supports people who are having difficulties in work, it also delivers advocacy and self advocacy to help disabled people stay in work.
I then began employment with disability action working on the Workable programme. The aim of this program is to deliver supported employment to persons with a disability who are in work, also to support the employers. The objective of this program is to help people to sustain long term employment through the delivery of individualised interventions, which support both employee and employer. This is a government funded program.
Finally I am currently employed as a member of the Job Match team, here I began working as a Supported Employment Officer, I supported participants to find work, ultimately I provided in work support. To do this effectively I adopted the principles of the Supported Employment Model, which included job matching, customer engagement and vocational profiling. This allowed me to ensure that I was meeting the needs of the participants, by matching them to the correct job, also it allowed me to find the right candidate for the employer through successful job matching.
I am now working as an Employment Engagement Officer. This part of my job involves me working with large employers, across multiple sectors, to create job opportunities for Job Match participants, as well as other intermediary organisations, such as the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment.
I also directly support employers to make reasonable adjustments and implement positive action measures, for persons with a disability within the work place.
Finally, I design & deliver employability skills workshops for Job Match participants to prepare them for various job roles across multiple sectors; I also invite employers to these workshops to share their insights and as a way of facilitating targeted recruitment for Job Match participants.
I feel so lucky to have come through the complete journey of supported employment, as a participant on Job Match, with lived experience of disability and barriers to employment, to now as a skilled employee delivering programs that support persons with disabilities to overcome barriers to entering and sustaining long-term employment.
My dream is to keep doing what I am doing now for many years to come, to support as many people as possible into employment. Ultimately, my dream is to have a labour market that is open to all persons with disabilities, one that delivers social inclusion, adequate disability awareness & above all acceptance and understanding of people’s rights and fundamental freedoms.