Mencap NI Calls on Businesses to Employ More People with a Learning Disability

Mencap NI is calling on businesses in Northern Ireland to employ more people with a learning disability, as part of the charities Learning Disability Work Week to raise awareness of the benefits of employing someone with a learning disability.

Rachel Donaghy from North Belfast has been supported by Mencap to gain paid employment as a Customer Assistant in at Boots UK.  Rachel first started in a work placement with Boots while she was completing a retail course in college and was keen to develop her skills and confidence working in a retail environment, her goal was to gain paid employment.

Rachel said:” “When I got the job I felt excited and less worried. It was a stress worrying about the future and wondering if I’d ever get a job. Now I get up in the morning and I’m excited to have something to do. Everyone likes me in Boots and I really enjoy it. I really love it here. It’s like a home from home.”

Mencap NI’s Employment Service supports over 400 people with a learning disability each year, working with over 200 employers in Northern Ireland from the statutory, private and voluntary sectors, from large employers to small businesses.  The charity works in partnership with employers who want to give people with a learning disability an opportunity in the workplace, such as Boots, Local District Councils, KFC, Poundland, Poundstretcher, ASDA, Tesco, Sainsburys and McDonalds, as well as many smaller local businesses right across Northern Ireland.

Aiden Lynch has been supported by Mencap NI to get a paid job as a Sales Assistant at The Range store in Derry-Londonderry following work placements,  he said: “I enjoy working here, I have made lots of new friends, it’s a really great place to work.”

Support from Mencap is available to employers who are willing to provide paid work and job 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.

Galvin Lovell at The Range Store 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”

Rachael McCauley,  Mencap NI Area Operations Manager for Employment said: “People with a learning disability can be forgotten by the job market and employment levels have remained low, meaning thousands are missing out on the pride, independence and self-worth that a job offers, and instead are 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 made their workplaces inclusive to people with a learning disability and encourage others to do take the same steps.”

Mencap Northern Ireland’s “EmployAbility” ESF project is funded by the European Social Fund, Department for Communities and the Department for Economy. The Workable NI Programme is also funded by the Department for Communities and is delivered by Mencap NI via the Supported Employment Solutions Partnership.