Between 2018 and 2019, the Employment team has helped six people who are deaf or have hearing loss access full-time work and five people access part-time work.
Many people who take part in the Specialist Employment Programme have not worked for several years, and can find it difficult to get employment. Through the programme, they can benefit from one-to-one mentoring from Employment Advisors, support with job searching, interview practice, help getting work experience and accredited training.
Siobhan, who took part in the Level 2 Customer Service training, said: "I enjoyed meeting new people. I learnt a lot and it was worthwhile doing the training. After four weeks training I got a work placement with the Public Health Agency. I struggled a bit at the start – it was a big change, everything was new – but I began to like it and worked with people who were really nice. It got me out of the house and I learnt from people I was working with – I would recommend it to anyone."
Over the past year, 35 people have accessed training courses through the programme, including Customer Service, Health & Safety, Driving Theory and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. The teaching is deaf friendly, delivered in sign language with a teaching style tailored to suit deaf groups.
Claire Lavery, Director at Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland, said: "This programme provides life-changing support for people who are deaf or have hearing loss by helping them access employment and accredited training. Today recognises the achievements of those who have taken part in the programme over the past year and we are delighted to celebrate their success."
This project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014–2020 and the Department for Economy and match funded by the Department for Communities.
An ESF Managing Authority spokesperson, Maeve Hamilton, said "The Department for the Economy through the NI European Social Fund Programme has been delighted to provide financial support to assist the Specialist Employment Programme project, managed by Action on Hearing Loss. This excellent project provides tailored support and training to members of the deaf and hearing loss community to improve their employability and enhance social inclusion. By addressing some of the key personal barriers encountered by their clients, the project has proven how the approach taken can result in positive outcomes. These include securing permanent employment, attainment of recognised qualifications and the acquisition of new skills and work experience. The project will no doubt have a real and lasting impact as it continues to deliver these valuable services."
Deirdre Ward, Director of Work and Wellbeing Division, said "The Department for Communities was delighted to attend the celebration event, meet those who shared their real life success stories and to see at first hand the benefits of the Specialist Employment Programme. It was great to see how DFC Match funding for Action on Hearing Loss has contributed towards helping people with hearing loss achieve their goals."