Over 1,000 people with disabilities were supported on the pathway to employment through the Ability to Work Fund over the past three years. The Ability to Work Fund is a €1.5 million fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with State Street and the Government of Ireland to open pathways to employment by investing in organisations that provide training, upskilling and education.
The fund allowed for an increase in service levels, expanding reach to open employment opportunities for people with disabilities, nurturing their talent and matching them with progressive companies and organisations.
The four organisations supported through the fund were Cork University Foundation’s Disability Support Service Mentoring Programme; Not So Different, a group supporting new neurodiverse students to develop their creative skills in a supported environment; Dublin Simon Community for people with a disability experiencing homelessness; and Walkinstown Association for People with an Intellectual Disability’s Creating Employment PATHways Through Technology Project.
Since the launch of the fund in 2021, the four awarded organisations have implemented a range of innovative initiatives and support projects in direct response to the employment and equality needs of people with disabilities. Participants were enabled to access the workplace via the programmes.
Key achievements enabled under the Ability to Work Fund were:
Deirdre Mortell, CEO, Rethink Ireland commented: “We know that almost two thirds of people with disabilities are unemployed in Ireland. This is unacceptably low when we know that people with disabilities have a right to equal employment opportunities. The Ability to Work Fund is one step towards addressing this.”
Terri Dempsey, COO, State Street Ireland said: “We are delighted to partner with Rethink Ireland to support more than 1,000 people with disabilities into employment where barriers too often limit opportunities. Over the past three years, State Street has worked closely with Rethink Ireland to identify and back the most impactful organisations who are tackling the issue of disability unemployment. Several employees from State Street took part in the UCC Disability Support Service Mentoring Programme, the personal stories and positive influence of the training, mentoring and work experience creates a lasting ripple effect for everyone. Our mentors gained as much from the experience as the mentees. The impact of the Ability to Work fund has been remarkable; the data and statistics speak for themselves.”