Our services Work and Training Cedar secures funding from the European Social Fund: Read Marie's Employability Story Cedar’s Inclusion Works team has been successful in securing funding from the European Social Fund during the second call of applications. We want to celebrate this and the success of the previous programme, having exceeded all targets with our participants. Cedar supported over 700 people with disabilities to achieve their goals of employment and inclusion, including 112 people into paid jobs. For people living with disability this funding means that Cedar can continue to work in partnership with our local councils, health trusts, employers and training providers to progress inclusion for people with disability through work, training, volunteering, gaining new skills and qualifications. People with disabilities face multiple barriers to employment resulting in high levels of economic inactivity and social exclusion. Only 37.8% of working age disabled people are in work versus 77.9% without disabilities. People with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to have no qualifications. Cedar has over 75 years’ experience of supporting people with disability and has demonstrated that these barriers can be overcome with specialist support. To celebrate our funding success at our launch event, we were delighted to have Alison Long, Senior HR and OD Advisor with Belfast City Council and Sinead Flanagan, Occupational Therapist with the Belfast Health Trust’s Community Brain Injury Team. We are particularly looking forward to working in closer partnership with local Councils in meeting the challenge of removing barriers for people with disability to get into the work place. Belfast City Council has provided a range of valuable work experiences for our participants over the years. Marie Mulgrew participated in the Inclusion Works programme after acquiring osteoarthritis. When asked about the challenges she faced in relation to training and work, Marie said: “I was a homemaker/Mum and always planned to return to work after having my family, but I now have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis and two children with special needs, so it wasn’t easy for us. My son has autism and moderate learning difficulties, so I needed to be there for him” Marie worked with Case Officer, Maria, to design an individual programme based around her needs and aspirations to build confidence and independence. Following initial assessments, an action plan was drawn up to address her personal barriers and agree solutions to meet her goals. Marie commented: “Maria helped me to gain invaluable work experience in a few special schools, and gain qualifications (Level 3 Teaching Assistant Diploma and OCR Digital Employability Certificate). I have now just started my new job in Mossgrove Primary School and am over the moon” On successfully meeting her goals, Marie is due to be signed off the programme, but as part of the service, Marie’s Case Officer Maria will stay in touch with her for a year, to offer continued specialist support and encouragement as required, to secure her work role. Cedar’s Director of Employability & Community Inclusion, Elaine Armstrong, stated: “We are delighted to be able to continue working with our partners in Health and Social Care, Local Councils, Employers and Training Providers to support people with disabilities to overcome the challenges they face to reach their potential and achieve significant goals of work and training.” Cedar Inclusion Works is funded by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy. Funding is also provided by the Department for Communities and all five local HSCTs in Northern Ireland. If you would like to find out more about Cedar’s Inclusion Works programme please visit our dedicated Inclusion Works webpage.