Rethink Ireland calls for employers to embrace diverse workplaces on UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Rethink Ireland, is highlighting the inequalities faced by persons with disabilities in the workplace.

Rethink Ireland, Ability to Work Fund photocall at Lidl, Walkinstown. Date: 30/11/2021 Photographer: 1IMAGE/Bryan Brophy 1IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY Studio: +353 1 493 9947 / Mob: +353 87 246 9221

Today we celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities which aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. Rethink Ireland created the Ability to Work Fund in August 2020 to support and empower people with disabilities to gain employment. 


The Ability to Work Fund is a €1.5 million euro Fund created by Rethink Ireland and supported by State Street and the Government of Ireland which helped fund four innovative organisations, WALK, UCC Disability Support Service Mentoring Programme, Not So Different and Dublin Simon Employability Pathways Programme. Right now In Ireland there are +650,000 living with a disability (1 in 7) making them the largest minority group within our society, yet according to a report from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, people living with a disability are twice as likely to be unemployed as those without a disability. 


In order to move from awareness to action, we must rethink our conception of disabilities. WALK, one of the awardees of the Ability to Work Fund has demonstrated that this is possible. Meet Gavin Kinnear, who is a beneficiary of the WALK program which provides education, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, autism, and other barriers to employment. Gavin has gained permanent full-time employment with LIDL through his experience with WALK. 


Speaking about the experience, Gavin said, “I signed up for the Ability to Work Program last year and worked very hard on lots of different courses and training. Even during lockdown, I remained positive and knew if I put in the effort that I would get a good job eventually. All the hard work has paid off! With the help of my job coach and trainer and the staff in WALK, I was able to go into an interview and get offered a paid 10-week trial in my local Lidl store in Walkinstown. I felt great in the interview – I was confident and knew what I wanted. We had practiced a lot and it was worth it. 


In August, I had my performance review, and I am delighted to say that I passed my probation period, and I am now a permanent member of staff. I was told that I add a lot of value to the team so I have increased my hours because the shop will be busy coming up to Christmas.”


As a result of Gavin’s performance, Lidl has decided to work with WALK to offer additional positions to persons living with a disability across its supermarkets. 


When organisations look at the abilities of a person, not their disabilities they realise that this person is adding incredible value to their organisation, there is a pool of untapped potential waiting to meet your organisation today. Get in touch if you would like to support more people just like Gavin.