Contacts Work and Training Cedar secures funding from the European Social Fund: Read Dwayne'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. Only 38% of working age disabled people are in work versus 78% 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. We were delighted to have Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Cllr Lindsay Millar and Council Chief Executive Anne Donaghy at our launch event to celebrate our funding success. We are also particularly looking forward to working in closer partnership with our local Councils in meeting the challenge of removing barriers for people with disability to get jobs. Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Lindsay Millar said: “I’m delighted to be here today to celebrate this fantastic news. Congratulations to all the staff at Cedar Foundation on their success to date, and I look forward to seeing plenty more success stories over the next 4 years and beyond. “Council has a responsibility to promote equality and inclusivity for all citizens. Our community plan clearly sets out goals and ambitions to ensure a vibrant, strong and safe community for all, and to see organisations working together to deliver this here today, is testament to that community planning translating to actual benefits for citizens in the borough. I would like to wish all at the Cedar Foundation the very best as they continue to provide such valuable services to people with disabilities, both within this borough and across Northern Ireland.” Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy also welcomed the announcement: “The Inclusion Works programme is important to Mid and East Antrim to ensure people with disabilities are supported as equal citizens. As the Disability Champion for SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work in close partnership with Cedar Foundation to raise the profile of their work to improve the life satisfaction of people of disabilities. “It’s a subject I’m extremely passionate about and I’ve spearheaded the Disability Employment Action Plan throughout our local councils. I want to ensure that it makes a positive difference to quality of life, independence and choice for people with disabilities by creating meaningful opportunities for employment and career development. “This partnership approach with Cedar Foundation is critical to secure and open up employment opportunities. As chief executive of one of the area’s biggest employers, I will ensure that opportunities are promoted through the council and want to reassure Cedar that our councillors are fully supporting the amazing work you’re doing here in Mid and East Antrim.” Dwayne Rafferty participated in the Inclusion Works programme as he has a significant hearing impairment. When asked about the challenges he faced for training and work he said: “I didn’t have much experience in the work place, I wasn’t confident, and I was very nervous meeting new people. My main goal was to find a job, but I didn’t know how to start.” Dwayne worked with Case Officer, Lorraine Gordon 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 goals. Lorraine commented: “The Cedar team set up a range of work tasters to build employment skills and find were his interests lay. He has successfully completed several placements one of these is now a long term voluntary position. This has been a great confidence boost for Dwayne and he is now able to see how our support can help him navigate any disability barriers he was experiencing”. Dwayne is now getting support to apply for paid work as the next step in his journey. Cedar’s Trustee and Chair of the Employability Advisory Panel – Martin Howell, stated: “We are delighted to welcome Mayor Lindsay Millar and Anne Donaghy, to the formal announcement of Cedar’s Inclusion Works programme, the new 4 Year ESF programme has secured over £1.5 Million of resources for the Ballymena Resource Centre to support people with disabilities over the next 4 years. During this time we will be working in close partnership with the Mid & East Area Antrim Borough council as we jointly aim to deliver an employment action plan to secure jobs for people with disabilities across the borough. Cedar’s CEO – Stephen Mathews OBE, stated: “Cedar are thrilled to be working closely with the Mid & East Area Antrim Borough council, regarding the delivery of a Disability Employment Action Plan. Special thanks to Anne Donaghy, in her role as SOLACE* NI champion for disability matters she spearheaded the agreement of the action plans throughout the SOLACE membership. This is an exciting time to be working together in partnership to secure employment opportunities for people with disabilities.” 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.