May Day - or International Workers Day as it is also known - is a day to celebrate workers all around the world and their rights. This includes workers with disabilities.
To mark May Day, we look back on our event on employment that we hosted with Services Industrial Professional Technical Union (SIPTU) last December, where people with intellectual disabilities presented on why employment was important to them.
'Making Employment Work'
On the 3rd of December 2018, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Inclusion Ireland hosted an event sponsored by SIPTU at Liberty Hall, Dublin.
The event, called ‘Make Employment Work: Supporting People with Intellectual Disabilities in Employment’ was attended by over 200 people, the majority of which were people with lived experience of intellectual disability, along with their supporters, support workers and professionals.
‘Make Employment Work’ was organised by the Self-Advocacy Subcommittee of the Board of Inclusion Ireland. This Subcommittee is made up entirely of people who have an intellectual disability.
In choosing to host an event on employment, the subcommittee decided that it was important that people heard employment experiences straight from people with an intellectual disability. The aim was for this event to be a platform where people can share their experiences of employment, both positive and negative, with their peers and to have a discussion about what can be done moving forward.
Hearing from people with lived experience
At the event, there were 8 presentations and the event was hosted throughout by the Self-Advocacy Subcommittee. The presentations included the WALK Advance Programme. This involved hearing from Kathryn Griffin who talked of her journey for the past 13 years looking for a job to recently starting as a receptionist in WALK. The audience also heard from Ziad who talked of how he started his own business as a DJ in bars in Dublin.
Geraldine Scanlon, from DCU, presented on her PASTE research on those transitioning through school and how more supports are needed for people to go on to third level education.
Emily Healy talked of her job in the Mayor’s office in South Dublin County Council and how having a job has helped her become more independent, meaning she can live in her own home and be more involved in her community.
The Ability @ Work Programme from Cope Foundation in Cork involved hearing from Mikey, Amy and Kenneth on their experiences of trying to get a job and the different approaches each of them are taking.
Tomás Murphy spoke about the different work experiences he has had and how his perseverance with his employer in A&L Goodbody led to him being offered a permanent job with the company.
Margaret Turley spoke of her job in EY, and the positive effects having a job has had on her independence, and of the importance of the social aspect of being in a working environment.
Michelle Quinn from SIPTU also spoke about the role of trade unions in promoting the rights of people with disabilities, and the challenges people with disabilities face.
The event was closed by Fergus Finlay, the Independent Chairperson of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy Implementation Group. Fergus spoke about the need for more to be done to address the barriers people with disabilities face in trying to get a job.
The event was very enjoyable for all who attended. People felt energised by the discussions throughout the day and there was interest in continuing the learning from the event.
Inclusion Ireland will be continuing its work on employment throughout 2019.