Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, formally launched the new disability employment programme entitled Work Connect in November.
Work Connect is a specifically tailored disability employment programme designed to target some of the most disadvantaged clients currently receiving Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and help them secure work.
The Minister said:
“Work Connect will support people with a diverse range of health conditions and disabilities through a variety of individually tailored interventions that will enhance their skills to progress into employment. The real strength of the programme is the individually tailored and specialist support based on each client’s specific needs.”
The support on offer through Work Connect is enhanced by the wide range of quality specialist disability provision which is available through the respective organisations who have come together now as the new consortium, Supported Employment Solutions.
The Work Connect programme, offers an individually tailored programme providing pre-employment and short-term in-work support, as well as specific help with confidence building, job searching, motivation, work experience and short training personal development needs.
The Minister continued:
“The introduction of Work Connect is an excellent opportunity for our front line staff to build very positive working relationships with the respective organisations within Supported Employment Solutions. I know this work has already started and today is another opportunity for ideas to be shared with each other.”
The programme, which will offer individually tailored pre-employment and short-term in-work support, will be delivered by Supported Employment Solutions (SES), a consortium of seven specialist disability organisations.
The organisations who make up the consortium are: Action Mental Health (AMH), The Cedar Foundation (Cedar), Mencap, NOW, The Orchardville Society, RNIB (NI) and Action on Hearing Loss.
Speaking at the launch in Belfast, David Babington (CEO AMH) and Stephen Mathews (CEO Cedar) commented:
“SES is pleased to be working in partnership with the Department for Employment and Learning in supporting people with disabilities and health conditions to find and sustain employment through Work Connect. We believe that SES represents an important step forward in how organisations work together in providing the best possible supported employment services for people with disabilities.”
The launch was attended by a range of Employment Service staff and representatives from the Supported Employment Solutions consortium as well as some local employers.