Awarded Fund

Ability To Work Fund 2020-2023

Empowering more people with disabilities to gain employment.

This Ability to Work Fund is a €1.5 million fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with State Street and the Government of Ireland. The Ability to Work Fund will support not-for-profit organisations to empower more people with disabilities to gain employment. A disability might be a physical or intellectual disability, a learning disability, or a disability due to traumatic brain injury or a mental health condition from 2020 to 2023.

On Tuesday, August 11th 2020 Rethink Ireland in partnership with State Street announced the four Awardees of the Ability to Work Fund.

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State Street, Rethink Ireland and the Government of Ireland have awarded €1.5 million from the Ability to Work Fund to four not-for-profit organisations who are helping develop the talents and skills of Ireland’s forgotten workforce, giving employment opportunities to those living with a disability. Pictured at the official announcement is Heather Humphreys, TD, Minister for Social Protection and Community and Rural Development, Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, Tadhg Young, Ireland Country Head, State Street and Sharon Keogh & Báirbre Dolan, Dublin Simon Community Pic: Marc O’Sullivan

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Hear about the impact of our awardees


Employability Pathways Programme

Dublin Simon Community’s Employability Pathways Programme is an innovative employability model which caters for the most vulnerable individuals in society, namely people experiencing homelessness who are also living with a disability. The project strives to give personalised support to clients, helping them improve their job-readiness and develop their skills through literacy, numeracy, and IT classes, volunteering placements, a homeless specific Community Employment Engagement scheme, training opportunities, and meaningful activities. Since 2016  28 clients have completed a Level 5 QQI Health & Fitness course and a total of 19 individuals have gone on to full- time employment. 

The UCC Disability Support Service Mentoring Programme

The UCC Disability Support Service (DSS) Mentoring Programme matches students with a disability with professional mentors for an academic year. The project also supports employers to develop a better understanding of the impact of a disability on employees and how these challenges can be accommodated in the workplace. The Mentoring Programme aims to support graduates with a disability to transition into employment. The project has developed from having 6 mentoring partnerships and one company in 2016 to 71 mentoring partnerships and 9 companies in 2020.

Not So Different

Not So Different promotes inclusion and equality of people who are neurodiverse through employment and education. NSD Creative Hub, Irelands’ first Neurodiversity simulated work place environment where individuals’ innate skills and talents acquired through NSD training are showcased to employers. Since 2019, 70 students received employment supports of which 54 engaged in professional accredited training and 35 in work place initiatives.
Promoting greater understanding of neurodiversity is central to the work of NSD. Deirdre Lynch, founder of NSD and person with a lived experience of neurodiversity has opened Ireland’s first neurodiversity school of thought to increase understanding of neurodiversity at home, in schools/colleges and in work. Training solutions are tailored to the needs of the employer, educator or individual.


WALK and its subsidiary, Walkinstown Green Social Enterprises (WGSE) provides education, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, autism, and other barriers to employment through the operation of the Green Kitchen Café and the Green Garden. Through these programmes, WGSE provides a bridge to mainstream employment and has supported people into work with 51 different employers including the Houses of the Oireachtas, Compass at Google, Facebook, Accenture, Tallaght University Hospital and Costa Coffee.