The project is aimed at making the Shannon region the first area first in Ireland where businesses become fully disability confident.
The pilot project is led by EmployAbility Clare and Shannon Chamber, and also involves Ennis and Limerick Chambers, and EmployAbility Limerick. It is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and the National Disability Authority and will be launched at a breakfast seminar in Bunratty Castle Hotel on Wednesday, 17 February at 8am. The concept, which will also involve getting disability confidence champions within companies, has the potential to be rolled-out nationally.
Keynote speakers at the launch will include Helen McFarlane, from Business Disability Forum, UK, who have developed a Disability Confident business standard in the UK and host ‘Disability Smart Business’ awards annually; disability training expert George Percy and; author, and Clare County Council employee, Siobhan Mungovan, who will share her experiences on how workplace accommodation enabled her return to work.
Speaking ahead of the launch, EmployAbility Team Leader Dr Helen McQuillan said: “This is a unique project for counties Clare and Limerick and the entire Mid-West. It is the first time that the EmployAbility Service and the Chambers of Commerce in any Irish region have joined forces in a concerted effort to encourage businesses to become confident in recruiting people with disabilities. Businesses that deal directly with customers will also be encouraged to provide better services to customers with disability, and make their business information, premises and services more accessible.”
Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes, also speaking on behalf of Ennis Chamber CEO Rita McInerney and Limerick Chamber CEO, Dr James Ring, added: “We are delighted to be invited to be the lead chamber in this project. With both Ennis and Limerick Chambers also on board, we can now encourage our collective membership of over one thousand companies to embrace disability.
“Businesses need to think different about disability. Although a number of individual businesses or employers are actively promoting inclusive businesses, there is considerable fear within the business community about welcoming and communicating with customers with disability or hiring staff with disability or health challenges. Despite the availability of grants for disability awareness training, few businesses or companies in Clare or Limerick avail of this funding.
“This project aims to change this and make disability confidence a standard of business excellence,“ Ms Downes added.
Shannon, Ennis and Limerick Chambers, and EmployAbility Clare and Limerick encourage as many businesses as possible to attend the launch of this project, which has the potential to make the Mid-West region an exemplary region where businesses confidently embrace disability and are open to employing a new cohort of employees, and make their premises and business material disability accessible.
Bookings for this launch can be made online at http://www.shannonchamber.ie/events-training/ or by booking direct with Shannon Chamber at 061 708341.
Further information also available from Employability Clare 065 6844007 / 086 8350229 or Employability Limerick Tel: 061 493095