Recruiting people with disabilities - Making it work
One in five people in Northern Ireland live with a disability. They are a very diverse group with a wide range of abilities, skills and aptitudes. Many people with a disability are eager to work and have skills needed by our economy. However, despite this pool of talent, the employment rate for disabled people is currently 37.3% in Northern Ireland.
The following stories tell the real experiences of disabled people in Northern Ireland who have availed of employment support services. We hope their stories will inspire employers to enhance their workforces, providing more and better jobs for disabled people.
Ben Rashbrook and the Cedar Foundation
Ben Rashbrook suffered serious injuries including bleeding on the brain after an accident in which he was knocked off his bicycle in 2012. He joined the Cedar Foundation’s ‘Inclusion Works Programme’ in the summer of 2019 following a referral from the Community Brain Injury Team in the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust.
Ben is now living his dream as a self-employed business owner, he established ‘R Supplements Ltd, a sports supplements business at the end of 2019. Speaking about his experience Ben said: “I set a goal for myself to start up my own business. I already had the idea for the business and secured the capital needed but I needed some support and guidance from Cedar to get me on the right path.
Hazel Craigan - Personal Assistant, Public Health Agency
Hazel Craigan is an important asset to the Public Health Agency, where she has worked since 2019. As Personal Assistant to the Assistant Director, Hazel has a key role and has continued to work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Her role includes diary management, admin support and coordination of meetings, and she provides an important liaison role between the PHA, Department of Health, Health Care Trusts and other professional bodies.
Speaking about her experience Hazel said: “The extra needs and communication support that I require as a Deaf British Sign Language user don’t limit my ability in any way. I love my job, I love interacting with the public and I can’t thank RNID enough for everything they have done for me.”
Colin McElroy - Support Officer, Disability Action
Colin McElroy thoroughly enjoys his job. He is a Support 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 the programme.
Colin was a lorry driver for almost 20 years. In 2006 his life changed dramatically when a fall left him requiring surgery for a broken back and the devastating news that he could never drive a lorry again. Speaking about his experience Colin said: “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!
Alicia Clarke and Action Mental Health
Lesley Caldwell - Home Picking Shopper, ASDA
William Mooney - Recycling Operative, Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council
Many thanks to the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment and all organisations that helped us to highlight these case studies. Special thanks to Ben, Hazel and Colin who have shared their personal experiences of getting back into employment, especially during the Covid pandemic.