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Ability Work Winner Programme

Youth Work Ireland Tipperary are looking for people to take part in their Ability Work Winner Programme. The programme promoted positive pathways into education, training and employment for participants.

The objectives of Ability were to:

· assist young people with disabilities to develop the confidence and independence required to participate in education, training and employment

· support young people with disabilities who are not in education, employment or training to access and participate in education, training, and employment

· build the capacity of employers to recruit and retain young people with disabilities within their workforce

· The programme helps young people aged 16-25 diagnosed with a disability find work or enter education and training.

Project Coordinator Tommy Dorney and Project Worker Andrea O’Regan spoke to the Tipperary Star about what the programme offers.

“What’s unique about our approach is that we use the youth work approach. It’s a real person-centred approach, and the person is the driving force behind the programme,” said Mr Dorney.

Mr Dorney says based on a person’s interests.

They can organise workplace visits, placements and find out what training is necessary.

The service can help with additional tuition, organisation and planning skills and career planning for the future.

They can also help young people explore their options if school is not a good fit for them.

“What I see is, in Ireland, you go to school, you finish school, you go to college and get your job.

And then for the young people who maybe fall off that circuit, that didn’t necessarily like school or school didn’t suit them, or they don’t go on to college, and then they start with us,

and they are back in training, learning to drive and building their independence.” said Ms O’Regan.

For those going to college for the first time, the programme supports SUSI applications, DARE and HEAR applications and college programmes.

“We will always make it as comfortable for the young person as possible. A mantra we have in this organisation is we will meet the young person where they are at.

“We sort of reverse engineer the process if we can. We will sit down with a blank sheet of paper with the young person, find out their interests, and then reverse engineer a process from there.

Mr Dorney says that if somebody was nervous coming into the centre can bring someone for support or a staff member will go and meet them.

“There is no pressure. It’s all voluntary participation on our side, and the young person will drive the project themselves,” said Mr Dorney.

Ms O’Regan says the first meeting will be an informal chat to find out the person’s interests.

“Normally, when they come in, they realise what we are like. They realise we are not their school, and they come on board because they want the support,” said Ms O’Regan

Mr Dorney and Ms Regan feel that the organisation has a lot to offer young people and have seen first-hand the projects’ impact.

“The most satisfying thing to me is seeing the young person grow. A young person going from someone who came in with a parent and couldn’t do any group work to doing an exchange overseas or finding employment and a sense of belonging,” said Mr Dorney.