In the end of the previous editorial, I was saying that we are going to widely promote the Supported Employment model, in addition to our daily work with our young beneficiaries, their parents and relatives and companies that have said YES to the challenge of integrating people with disabilities into their teams.
Why? First of all, this model is based on a win-win strategy: people with disabilities have the chance to get suitable jobs and keep them for the long term, while companies have the opportunity to hire dedicated and valuable workers. Secondly, the widespread of the Supported Employment will change mentalities, and misperceptions regarding the integration of young adults with disabilities on the labour market and into society. So, step by step, we will contribute tothe changing of that paradigmwhich I have constantly mentioned in my previous editorials.
How? Letting the facts speak for us! So, in recent months, we have organised meetings between young adults with disabilities enrolled in the LEAD project. During these events, our beneficiaries who changed their lives after joining the LEAD project have shared their stories with other young adults with disabilities, looking for a job, and with their parents. Why? Because we strongly believe in the power of example given by people who were in the same situation: without a job and distrustful of themselves and those around them.
Then, we and our partners have continued to organize experience exchanges between young adults with disabilities looking for a job and potential employers. Why? Firstly, we noticed that these meetings can change the company representatives’ perception regarding the collaboration with people with disabilities. Secondly, our young beneficiaries have the opportunity to see how the activity is carried out and to find out valuable information in order to decide if those jobs really suit them.
Also, our colleagues have gone out into the community, for example to school centres for inclusive education, in order to talk to: young adults with disabilities, their parents and their relatives, and to their teachers about the Supported Employment process and its advantages. Also, they have given details regarding concrete support that could be offered to young adults with disabilities.
On the other hand, I paid attention to the academical community. Our colleagues have presented the Supported Employment model to psychopedagogy students. Also, they have talked about the opportunity to work in a non-governmental organization and how the students can contribute to the socio-professional integration of young adults with disabilities through the Supported Employment process.
Whenever we have had the opportunity, in events organised by us or by our partners, we have put on the public agenda the issue of large-scale access of people with disabilities to Supported Employment Services, as a solution for their sustainable integration into the labour market. To achieve this goal, we brought to the same table representatives of public institutions engaged in disability policies, leaders of business organisations, public and private providers of educational, social and employment services, alongside human resources specialists, in order to create a roadmap together, through a constructive dialogue.
At the same time, we and our partners from Lithuania and Portugal have continued to develop the National Networks of Supported Employment Service Providers, created within the LEAD project, in order to promote this new service in as many communities as possible, to ensure the exchange of expertise and information between network members, and to improve the quality and efficiency of the services provided by them.
After three and a half years of implementation, of which two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, we are happy to see that all these actions are paying off. I am happy to say that we have achieved and exceeded the assumed indicators. Beyond the numbers, we have built strong relationships with employers and solid partnerships in our communities, and we have changed the lives of young adults with disabilities who have chosen the LEAD project and who have trusted us. And, in my opinion, this is the most important achievement for us, and for them.
The project “Labour market Employment for young Adults with a Disability – LEAD” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment.
I invite you to find out the stories of three young adults with disabilities, told with emotion by them, andmore about the results of our work by reading our newsletter!
Project Manager – LEAD
Executive Director of
Health Action Overseas Foundation