Young adults with disabilities from Romania, Lithuania and Portugal who have enrolled as beneficiaries in LEAD project make day-to-day progress, with the help of LEAD team, by benefiting from collaborative and partnership relationships developed by the partner organisations, accessing lifelong-learning and personal development programs available in the mentioned countries.
Up to the end of LEAD project, 450 young adults with disabilities (180 from Romania, 150 from Lithuania and 120 from Portugal) will benefit from equal opportunities for social and professional integration. Also, Supported Employment services will be provided by Health Action Overseas Romania, Valakupiai Rehabilitation Center and Consultis – Consultoria Empresarial, Unipessoal Lda for 165 young adults with disabilities (60 from Romania, 60 from Lithuania and 45 from Portugal).
We want to share with other young adults the experiences of those who are already working with our team, and talk about difficulties, while focusing on discussing about the will and the perseverance of overcoming them and about the constant steps made by them for a better life.
We continue this series with the stories of Marina from Lithuania, and of Claudia and Ciprian from Constanta (Romania).
Marina – employee of the Ulla Jewelry Studio (Lithuania)
Marina, a young woman with hearing disability, was one of the first beneficiaries of LEAD project in Lithuania. She graduated from the Russian General Gymnasium and later on attended various courses, both in Lithuania and abroad, where she lived with her parents. Marina has always been interested in jewelry production and has learned to work with precious metals.
She no longer wanted to live abroad so the young woman decided to be independent and settle down in Lithuania. Marina needed to find a job, which was difficult without any support. One year ago, she addressed our colleagues from Lithuania, who recommended her to the representatives of the Ulla Jewelry Studio, where people with disabilities work. There, Marina could practice work tasks, try individual operations and test her own abilities, in order to evaluate whether this kind of work would suit her. Being talented at drawing and having good enough skills to work fine metal products, she expressed interest in continuing her work in the Studio.
Marina is Russian and she faces difficulties in writing in Lithuanian. She received support from the Valakupiai Rehabilitation Center (VRC) team to prepare her CV and motivation letter. The workplace and the job requirements were evaluated. Marina was hired by the Ulla Jewelry Studio after agreeing to the working conditions with the company’s managers. Initially, she signed a fixed-term employment contract of 6 months.
After employment, on-the-job support services were provided. Since Marina was hired, LEAD team has maintained contact with her, with the employer, and remotely, with her parents. All unexpected issues were resolved through discussions which have been conducted individually both with Marina and with the employer. The manager was informed about Marina’s social situation by the Supported Employment specialist. Also, our collegue notified the manager about Marina’s allergies to certain dyes and advised him to improve her working conditions. Also, Marina has received, in due time, personalised advice from the Supported Employment specialist, who acted as an intermediary between her and the employer.
She has shown interest and has focused on work, so Marina’s employment contract became permanent. The young woman’s parents keep in touch with her, talking daily via Skype.
Today, Marina has a fulfilled life, she has achieved her goal of becoming independent, and this gladdens both her and her relatives.
Claudia, employed in a car wash
Claudia comes from a placement centre; she was diagnosed with severe mental retardation. The young woman left the center in 2019, after she got married. For a while, she worked at a grocery store where she arranged the goods on the shelves and performed janitor duties. She then had to resign because she moved with her husband into a social home in a a different neighborhood. Claudia continued to look for a new job, but without any success; the employers were reluctant to employ her.
The young woman addressed the Supported Employment Center, opened within LEAD project in Constanta (Romania), in order to find a job. Our colleague Alina Sachelaru organised an interview at a company specialised in cleaning services, but the employer appreciated that the young woman was not able to perform the tasks mentioned in the job description.
In December 2019, our team started working with an employer who wanted to open a car wash in Constanța. Alina obtained for Claudia an interview with the company’s representative. Following this meeting, the young woman was accepted and she started working. Since then, our colleague has monitored her progress. The employer is satisfied with the woman’s evolution and with her desire to keep this job.
Simultaneously with the efforts to get employed, the young woman faced difficulties inherent to the process of adapting to her new life. In this respect, Alina helped Claudia to make an adaptation plan to social and urban life. For example, the young woman was encouraged to travel by public transport, in order to be able to orientate herself in the city, and to walk alone in the neighborhood or on short routes, to get to know the surroundings, in order to start doing it on her own. Moreover, she has benefited from couple counseling and financial counseling. Over time, Claudia has made progress.
At the end of February 2020, the young woman decided to leave her husband and return into the protection system of the General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection – Constanta(DGAPSC). In order to maintain her job, Claudia left her husband only after she found a place in a service center in Constanța.
The young woman keeps in touch with Alina; she contacts our collegue whenever Claudia feels the need to communicate important things about her life and she asks for advice, in order to make good decisions.
Claudia shows us that difficulties can be overcomed with patience, will, confidence, and with help provided by trained, involved and empathic people.
Ciprian, worker at Fabrikart
Ciprian lives in Techirghiol (town at 16 km outside Constanța) in a complex of sheltered housing. He is guided in making decisions regarding his social life by qualified staff within DGASPC.
The young man worked for more than two years as a handler at a beverage distribution company from Constanța. The employer did not accept to increase the salary of Ciprian and to settle the transport to/from Techirghiol, so the social workers decided that it was time for the young man to consider changing his job.
Thus, Ciprian addressed the Supported Employment Center, opened within LEAD project in Constanta (Romania), on the recommendation of social workers from DGASPC. Following the process of vocational profiling, our colleagues from Constanța identified the young man’s skills and preferences in the technical field and elaborated with him an action plan including a list of the employers that should be addressed and jobs that would suit him. Ciprian was informed about the advantages he could have if he will learn a practical job. Thus, the young man understood that if he practiced a profession, his salary would be higher than his then work-status of being unskilled.
It was considered in the job identification plan the possibility of contacting wood processing companies andPVC windows and doors manufacturerssituated in urban areas known to the young man. Our colleagues got him an interview at Fabrikart (an important furniture company from Constanta), where, later on, Ciprian was hired.
In March 2020, the young man started working at the factory and he is very satisfied. The employer ensures the settlement of the transport from Techirghiol to Constanța, as well as a periodic increase of his salary. Ciprian has the chance to evolve from a professional perspective. Our colleagues continue to monitor his evolution.