The Zero Project Conference, hosted annually by the United Nations organisation in Vienna, took place from February 10th – 12th online. The Zero Project focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. This international award recognises the impact that Cope Foundation’s Ability@Work programme has on developing inclusive workplaces across Cork city and county and supporting people with disabilities to secure meaningful, paid employment.
The online conference provided a global platform where the most innovative and practical solutions to employment barriers that persons with disabilities face are shared. Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers. This year’s conference, #ZeroCon21, showcased a global network (184+ countries) of change- makers and Cope Foundation was delighted to play its part on the international stage.
Marian Hennessy, Ability@Work co-ordinator, was one of the contributors to online workshops during last week’s conference. Craig Kelly, a participant in the Ability@Work programme and the President of the Ability Board, also spoke at the international forum about employment opportunities for people with an intellectual disability.
Marian Hennessy says, “We are honoured to receive this award from the Zero Project, acknowledging best practice in supported employment practices internationally. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our participants’ ability and how they can contribute to the workforce in Cork. We are so delighted to be a part of the Zero Project and for the Ability@Work programme to be internationally recognised in this way.”
Craig Kelly says, “I am a 22 year old 22-year-old with an intellectual disability. I have been with Ability@Work since the beginning of the programme. I started my journey as a job seeker, but I am now the first Ability Board President. I was delighted to speak at the Zero Project conference.”
Craig explains his role in the Ability Board, “The Ability Board is an advocacy group who fight for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities in employment. We are preparing for a nationwide campaign to be the voice for the voiceless. I have learnt now that having a disability is nothing to be ashamed of. I am proud of who I am now. The more we talk about it, the more it will be accepted. I want everyone in Cork to get behind us as we fight for inclusion in the workplace.”
Cope Foundation’s Ability@Work programme accepted this international award at the very same time that The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, confirmed that arrangements would be put in place to support the continued provision of employment services for young people with disabilities. This is hugely positive news for programmes such as Ability@Work, which was due to come to an end later this year. Cope Foundation has been seeking more sustainable and consistent funding for employment programmes that can change people’s lives and make our workplaces more inclusive and diverse.
Any employers who would like more information about this employment initiative or the Zero Project Conference can contact hennessym@cope-
Recordings of the workshops from the Zero Project conference are available at https://crowdcomms.typeform.