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Mencap NI Calls on Businesses to Employ More People with a Learning Disability

Mencap NI is calling on businesses in Northern Ireland to employ more people with a learning disability, as part of the charities Learning Disability Week to raise awareness of the benefits of employing someone with a learning disability.

Mencap NI’s Employment Service supports over 400 people with a learning disability each year, working with over 200 employers in Northern Ireland from the statutory, private and voluntary sectors, from large employers to small businesses.

Daniel Doherty is a General Assistant with the Valet Team at SERE Motors on the Boucher Road in Belfast, following an initial job placement supported by Mencap, Daniel has now completed two years paid employment, working two days a week. 

Daniel said: “I have now been working at SERE Motors for 2 years and it’s a great job, I love it and Mencap work closely with me to improve and develop my skills and confidence in the job.  I enjoy working at SERE every day and want to keep working hard.”

Mencap NI’s Employment Service supports and works in partnership with employers who want to give people with a learning disability an opportunity in the workplace, such as SERE Motors, Boots, Local District Councils, KFC, Poundland, Poundstretcher, ASDA, Tesco, Sainsburys and McDonalds, as well as many smaller local businesses right across Northern Ireland.

Support from Mencap is available to employers who are willing to provide paid work and job placement opportunities for people with a learning disability. Mencap ensures that employers have the right information, advice and practical support to be able to provide meaningful and sustainable paid work opportunities for people with a learning disability.

Bernard McCotter, General Manager of SERE Motors Boucher Road Site, said: “Daniel has been with SERE Motors for just over 2 years, he is a valued member of our valeting team.   We first met Daniel when he completed a week’s work experience with us in 2013, after a very successful placement, we were asked by Mencap to consider Daniel for a future employment opportunity. We created a role within our valeting team for Daniel. In the two years Daniel has been employed by us, he has grown and developed into a productive and effective team member. Daniel works hard, he also brightens the workplace with his positive and optimistic attitude.”

The Northern Ireland Executive has made a commitment to deliver on their Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities by working with employers and supporting people with disabilities to be achieve paid employment outcomes.  Mencap Northern Ireland’s “EmployAbility” ESF project is funded by the European Social Fund, Department for Communities and the Department for Economy as well as the local Health & Social Care trusts and several Regional Further Education Colleges

Margaret Kelly, Director of Mencap NI said: “People with a learning disability can be forgotten by the job market and employment levels have remained low, meaning thousands are missing out on the pride, independence and self-worth that a job offers, and instead are left isolated, facing a life on benefits.”

“This doesn’t need to be the case. We work with hundreds of employers who regularly tell us of the overwhelming benefits of having someone with a learning disability as part of their business and workforce. “

People with a learning disability tend to be very hardworking, stay in employment longer, take less sick days and are a great boost to employee morale. Employers we work with consistently tell us how with a little effort they’ve made their workplaces inclusive to people with a learning disability and encourage others to do take the same steps.”

Mencap has commissioned a research review published today, by Dr Stephen Beyer and Dr Annie Beyer, which highlights how employers have reported commercial benefits from employing staff with a learning disability.


Business benefits of employing people with a learning disability outlined in the review:

  • Financial savings - Research shows that by staying in post longer, having fewer sick days and having good punctuality records saves on recruitment and training costs.
    • People with a learning disability stay in their jobs 3.5 times longer than non-disabled co-workers4.
  • Better staff morale - Employers have reported overall increased staff morale, increased company productivity and better workforce cohesion.
    • 72.2% of employers regarded the impact on company morale as an important factor in deciding to employ people with a learning disability6.
  • Improved company reputation
    • 87% of consumers agreed that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities7

Between 19-25 June, Mencap is marking Learning Disability Week 2017, which is focussing on breaking down the barriers people with a learning disability face when trying to find and sustain paid employment.

Mencap Northern Ireland’s “EmployAbility” ESF project is funded by the European Social Fund, Department for Communities and the Department for Economy.

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Brian Kennedy, Communications Manager, Mencap Northern Ireland on 028 9069 0163 or 0786 406 7618 or at brian.kennedy@mencap.org.uk

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