Cedar’s Inclusion Works team has been successful in securing funding from the European Social Fund during the second call of applications. The charity wants is celebrating this and the success of the previous programme, having exceeded all targets with 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 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.  Only 38% of working age disabled people are in work versus 78% without disabilitiesPeople 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. 

Earlier this year we were delighted to have the then Lord Mayor Maolíosa McHugh with present to mark Action for Brain Injury Week. This was a great opportunity to celebrate with Cedar service users, staff and key partners - local employers and representatives from WHSCT Community Brain Injury Team. We are particularly looking forward to working in close partnership with local Councils and Trusts in meeting the challenge of removing barriers for people with disability to get jobs in the future.

Paul McDermott participated in the Inclusion Works programme after acquiring a traumatic brain injury. When asked about the challenges he faced in relation to training and work Paul said:

“At the start there were many days the classes were cut short due to me getting over stimulated. But a few months down the line we came to a decision, for at the time I still wanted to be involved in the motor trade, that the route to go was to return to college to do a business studies course in the hopes of starting my own business doing vehicle diagnostics.

Paul worked with Case Officer, Anna McCloskey, to design an individual programme based around his needs and aspirations to build confidence and independence. Following initial assessments an action plan was drawn up to address their personal barriers and agree solutions to meet his/her goals.

Paul commented:

“Cedar supported me during my 2 years at North West Regional College where I completed an extended diploma in Business Studies. I then exceeded even my own expectations by completing the course with the equivalent of 3 A star A-level grades and the equivalent of 3 C grade GCSE’s in English, Maths and IT.

Due to the excellent marks Paul had achieved he was encouraged into furthering his education with a university degree. He said: I thought about this and decided that I would apply. So, I applied to a few universities to do Law as I had thoroughly enjoyed the subject whilst completing the business studies course, due to the marks I had received I had been accepted to all the courses I applied for.

“Now 16 months down the line I’m working for one of the fastest growing financial service firms in Northern Ireland, Fintru. Thinking back, I would never have got to where I am without the support of Cedar.”

Paul is currently working as an associate with Fintru based in Belfast and really enjoying his 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 page.