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Colin McElroy

Recruiting people with disabilities

What you need to know


Case Study: 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 McElroy
Colin hails from Newry, is the proud father and a lifetime supporter of Liverpool. He 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: “Up until November 2006 I’d lead a pretty standard life, but the fall changed all that. Initially I focussed on my sons as my inspiration to get me back on my feet and that worked. But I couldn’t return to the freight business driving lorries and that was really hard. I’d always worked and been financially independent. Having that taken away from me was difficult to say the least.

“Eventually I decided it was time to get back to work. I started to search for jobs myself and that was challenging. I soon realised that I needed new skills and training if I was going to be in a position to compete for any of the vacancies that interested me.  I enrolled in a computer class and gained a Level 3 Social Science qualification and was a volunteer with the REAL Network through Disability Action and this really boosted by confidence.

“I referred myself to the Job Match project and was assigned a supporting officer who helped me to identify skill gaps and barriers to employment. I then signed up with Clanrye’s support services and completed further IT skills training, while I was doing this, a vacancy was advertised at Job Match with Disability Action.
Colin McElroy

“I applied for the position, it was very different to anything I’d done before but I was confident I could deliver for others and my lived experience was my ace card. I’ve been employed in Job Match since 2016 – I love my job, I get to help others, many of whom have acquired disabilities and I completely understand how they feel – its fantastic to see them getting into jobs and succeeding too.

“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!

Anne Reid, Job Match Manager, Disability Action said: “Collie’s lived experience of disability means that he can share his own experience to help participants on their journey towards employment as he is aware of the challenges and barriers they face in their daily lives, and while accessing employment opportunities. Collie has a real empathy for his participants and always goes the extra mile to ensure they are fully supported.”

Job Match is funded by the European Social Fund, Department for the Economy and Department for Communities. It is delivered by Disability Action in partnership with Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment.

This case study is part of the ‘Making it Work’ project – a partnership project with the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment which aims to highlight the employment support services available to disabled people in Northern Ireland.



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