€1.5 million fund created to offer work opportunities for people with disabilities

Social Innovation Fund Ireland and State Street have partnered to launch the ability to work fund

Pictured at the launch of the ability to work fund are Ailbhe Keane, a board member of SIFI, Lisa Cox, a member of Blue Diamond Drama Academy, Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, Daniel Ryan, member of Blue Diamond Drama Academy and Tadhg Young,  State Street country head. Photograph: Conor Healy/Picture It Photography 

Pictured at the launch of the ability to work fund are Ailbhe Keane, a board member of SIFI, Lisa Cox, a member of Blue Diamond Drama Academy, Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs & Social Protection, Daniel Ryan, member of Blue Diamond Drama Academy and Tadhg Young, State Street country head. Photograph: Conor Healy/Picture It Photography 

 

A new €1.5 million fund has been created by the Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI) and US financial services group State Street to offer more opportunities in the workplace for people with disabilities.

The partnership will see the “ability to work fund” created to provide funding over three years to organisations working to help people with a disability gain employment. The fund is also supported by the Department of Rural and Community development.

SIFI and State Street intend that the fund will reach 500 educationally-disadvantaged students over its three-year lifespan and help 250 to progress to employment.

Launching the fund, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, noted that many people with disabilities wish to work but are faced with barriers and challenges. This fund, she said, is an important initiative to provide the supports for those people living with disabilities.

“Within the public sector we are looking to double the number of people with a disability employed by 2024 and we are looking at alternative recruitment channels for people with disabilities,” Ms Doherty added.

SIFI chief executive Deirdre Mortell noted that almost 10 per cent of people living in Ireland identified as living with a disability according to figures from the last census. Those people are, however, half as likely to be in employment as others or working age, she said.

“It is encouraging that more and more employers are recognising the contribution people living with a disability can make to their organisation and are actively seeking to create employment for this group. Through the ability to work fund we hope to give more people with a disability the confidence to pursue employment,” Ms Mortell said.

The ability to work fund is open for applications until February 2020 and successful applicants will receive cash grants as well as a place on a programme which includes training.

Applications are sought from organisations that work with people who have an intellectual, physical or sensory disability from the age of 17.