After 15 months of COVID-19, in Portugal it is noticable that the pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on health, economy and society, in local communities, and at the national level; causing significant political and social disruption. The disabled people, people with less financial resources and less education are the most affected.In this context, between the 7th and the 8th of May 2021 the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the Porto Social Summit, an opportunity for European leaders to meet and discuss objectives, to set the European agenda for the next decade. On this occasion, they adopted the Porto declaration on social issues hoping to reduce social and economic inequalities that have widened during the coronavirus pandemic. This document states that the risks of exclusion for particularly vulnerable social groups, such as the long-term unemployed, the elderly, disabled individuals and the homeless, must be urgently addressed.
Regarding the implementation of LEAD project, the lockdown (partial in November-December 2020 and total from January to April 2021) has naturally slowed the pace of almost all activities, including the youth employment process, despite the alternative approaches adopted and constantly refined by our colleagues from Consultis. Given this unfavourable overall employment situation, the LEAD team in Portugal are satisfied with the results achieved. We can report that on the 31st of March 2021, 107 young Portuguese adults with disabilities looking for a job were registered as beneficiaries on the LEAD project and got involved in the employment programme. Of these, 37 are involved in the Supported Employment program, and 12 already employed. Concerning the employers with whom it collaborates, the Consultis team has outstanding relations with the farm Herdade da Pernada, and the company FIT – Fomento da Indústria do Tomate, S.A.
Also, our colleagues from Portugal have continued to organise experience exchanges between young adults with disabilities looking for a job and potential employers. Consequently, between October 2020 and January 2021, four such meetings took place in Moita and Barreiro. These events facilitated interactions, and built natural relationships between employers and potential employees, to increase employment opportunities for young adults with disabilities. Eight employers and 16 young people attended these meetings.
The Consultis team considers that the activity of spreading informationabout the Supported Employment methodology, its advantages, and implications is particularly relevant within the scope of the LEAD project.
In this context, both Portuguese Centres – The Integrated Centre of Resources in Supported Employment, and The Centre of Supported Employment Services – deliver consultancy and diseminate information to employers and human resources specialists to raise awareness on general issues concerning disability at the workplace. Up to the 31st of May 2021, 64 organisations / companies from different regions of Portugal (from the Porto metropolitan area to the Centre and South Regions) benefited from consultancy services, provided by Consultis specialists in this way. In parallel, the LEAD partner from Portugal developed a training package, which benefited 10 employers in November 2020. The purpose of this online training was to enable employers to include young adults with disabilities in their teams, as employees.
At the same time, the process of expanding the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers has continued. This Network was created in February 2019 in order to facilitate the implementation of Supported Employment methodology throughout the country and to ensure the exchange of information between professionals in the field. According to our colleagues from Consultis, so far 30 organisations from different regions of Portugal have joined the National Network.
The Portuguese LEAD team has been informing the representatives of public authorities and the members of the civil society about the role of the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers. Raising the level of community awareness on Supported Employment services and demonstrating that young adults with disabilities are able and are willing to work. Until the 31st of May 2021, 104 representatives of public authorities and 3,734 members of the civil society (young adults with disabilities, members of their families, employers, representatives of non-governmental organisations, VET and CVET centres representatives) were informed about the opportunities offered by the LEAD project, and the action of the National Network of Supported Employment Services Providers. Our colleagues also highlighted with the municipalities from the Aveiro and Porto districts, in order to raise awareness and articulate the issues of disability.