27 Ability Programmes launch digital tool for disability programmes


Ability is co-financed by the Irish Government and the European Social Fund as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.

27 Ability programmes nationwide, have collaborated and produced a digital ‘mapping’ tool, using existing creative software, to provide the public with information, resources and access to each programme: ‘Ability 27 Padlet’.

The Ability Programme provides funding to 27 local, regional and national projects in the Republic of Ireland that focus on bringing young people with disabilities between the ages of 15 and 29 closer to the labour market. Ability has an overall budget of up to €16m from 2018 to 2021, is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and administered by Pobal. The Ability Programme has been extended to 31st August 2021.

Every Ability Programme in Ireland is hosted by a variety of organisations, including disability services, educational programmes and community development partnerships. The work of these 27 programmes over the last 3 years has been innovative, person centred and empowering. There are over 90 staff who have worked with upwards of 2200 young people to date.  To showcase this work and provide a landing stage for information, resources and access to the 27 programmes, we have developed a collaborative tool, using an existing creative software platform, Padlet. The ‘Ability 27 Padlet’ is a free to use piece of software and provides us with a mapping tool and access to all Ability Programmes and resources. It is easy to use, interactive and accessible through any device. The Ability 27 Padlet is provided as a point of information for families, communities and other interested parties.

The Minister of Justice Social Protection, Community and Rural Development Heather Humphreys has outlined her support for the initiative.

“I am committed to supporting people with disabilities to participate more fully in society by providing supports that address the barriers that they may face. The Ability Programme is an example of this commitment in action and this innovative tool will further assist people with disabilities to avail of the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential.”

Down Syndrome Ireland welcomed the opportunity to showcase the work and achievements of our members who took part in the DSI Ability Programme over the last three years. DSI’s Ability Programme is one of the 27 Ability grantees. More than 185 adults took part in the programme, which aimed to break down barriers and help adults with Down syndrome enter the workforce.

Lisa Martin, Head of Education with Down Syndrome Ireland, said: “Even though the impact of the pandemic was enormous it was fantastic to see adults with Down syndrome employed across a wide variety of sectors including hospitality, retail, leisure and administration. DSI are proud to be one of the 27 Ability grantees and look forward to further developing training and employment opportunities for adults with Down syndrome.”

Fintan Bray, 27 from Delvin in Co. Westmeath, completed the DSI Ability Programme. During Covid, Fintan also took part in the course Ability Online, which was developed as part of the charity’s response to the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Through the Ability Programme, Fintan got a job in Clonabreany House, in Kells, Co. Meath. Fintan has been furloughed since March 2020, but is really looking forward to getting back to work soon.

“It’s my dream job, because of the way I’m treated. I’m a staff member, like everyone else.

“On the Ability Programme I learned different skills and worked at my achievements and goals. A new level of me came out and I improved myself. On occasion I ask for help so that I know I can do it for myself in the future. I have abilities, lots of them, which makes me live life to the fullest.

“We need young people come in to join into the Ability Programme, so they have a chance to get jobs. All young adults with disabilities, all over Ireland, should have that chance.

“I learned how to live during Covid this way, on zoom. I baked bread for the very first time. I got bored on occasion but mostly I kept myself busy. I like helping other people with disabilities, which I hadn’t done before.

“This programme helped me with a lot of things, DSI has helped me so much, emotionally and personally. I got my job from working hard and achieving so much, and that’s how the Ability Programme helped me. I’m glad to have been a part of the Ability programme and I would recommend it to anyone, all over Ireland.” 

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