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Mencap NI Calls on Businesses in Derry/Londonderry to Employ More People with a Learning Disability

09 November 2018

Mencap NI is calling on businesses in Derry/Londonderry to employ more people with a learning disability, as part of the charity’s Learning Disability Work Week to raise awareness of the benefits of employing someone with a learning disability.

Slaine Stannet, is a Visitor Services Assistant at the Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry and was supported by Mencap in various work placements that eventually led to a placement at the Guildlhall, welcoming visitors to the historic building. 

Now employed in a paid position by Derry City and Strabane District Council, Slaine said: “What I like about my job is that I am now earning my own wage, which is really good for me as now I can put some money away for a rainy day.  If I want to move out of my house, maybe buy a car, or if maybe someday if I want to get married I can put money towards it.  I’m just happy that I got a paid a position, because I was working on a voluntary placement there for a while. It really made my day when I found out I was successful in getting a paid job.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, said: “I am pleased to see that Mencap NI have given local people with a learning disability the help and guidance to secure full time employment and become a valued member of a working team through their Employment Service. I am proud that Derry City and Strabane District Council have worked in partnership with Mencap to create the opportunity for Slaine Stannet to earn a paid position in the Guildhall which will increase his independence, pride and confidence. I would encourage other local businesses to consider the programme, Mencap will work in partnership with you and provide the necessary help and guidance through each step in the process.”

Mencap NI’s Employment Service supports over 400 people with a learning disability each year, working with over 200 employers across Northern Ireland from the statutory, private and voluntary sectors, from large employers to small businesses.  In Derry/Londonderry the charity works in partnership with employers such as Everglades Hotel (Hastings Hotels), Brewer’s Fayre (Whitbread group), Western Health and Social Care Trust, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Bob Mullan Motors, Sainsburys, Savers, H & M and Argos.

Mencap supported Aiden Lynch in several work placements and interviews before he secured his first paid job as a Sales Assistant at The Range store in Derry/Londonderry.   Following a work placement at the store Aiden was successful in securing a permanent contract, out of 200 people interviewed, and was part of the staff team to open the new store. Aiden said: “I enjoy working here, I have made lots of new friends, it’s a really great place to work.”

Galvin Lovell, Sales Manager at The Range in Derry/Londonderry said: “Aiden has now settled in really well, he knows what is expected of him and is more than capable of completing the tasks that are set out for him when he is doing his shift. It is a real pleasure to have Aiden as part of the team”

Support from Mencap is available to employers who are willing to provide paid work and placement opportunities for people with a learning disability. Mencap ensures that employers have the right information, advice and practical support to be able to provide meaningful and sustainable paid work opportunities for people with a learning disability.

Rachael McCauley,  Mencap NI Area Operations Manager for Employment said: “People with a learning disability can be forgotten by the job market. Theiremployment levels have remained low, meaning thousands are missing out on the independence self-worth and pride that a job offers - instead they are often left isolated, facing a life on benefits.”

“This doesn’t need to be the case. We work with hundreds of employers who regularly tell us of the overwhelming benefits of having someone with a learning disability as part of their business and workforce. “

People with a learning disability tend to be very hardworking, stay in employment longer, take less sick days and are a great boost to employee morale. Employers we work with consistently tell us how with a little effort they’ve needed to make their workplaces inclusive to people with a learning disability – they tell us they would encourage others to take the same steps.”