Network A Facilitating access and return to the labour market for those who have difficulty in being integrated or reintegrated into a labour market which must be open to everyone.
Project name Lift to Work
Project number A0598

Project description

The primary objective of the Development Partnership is to enable occupational integration of people with motor disabilities by removing obstacles in entering the labour market.

The disabled account for approximately 14% of the total Polish population. They are particularly affected by inability to operate normally on the labour market. Most of them have poor skills and qualifications (as little as 4% of the disabled have completed tertiary education), mainly due to mismatch between the structure of educational system and the needs of disabled people. Failing to find a job, they are unable to gain hands-on experience, which is increasingly becoming the key asset on the labour market. A difficult access to vocational training and education is another obstacle faced by those who wish to improve their skills. In addition to mental impact on the disabled (a sense of being isolated, hopelessness, passivity and demanding attitudes), prolonged unemployment generates a specific category of the unemployed: quite often, a family member devotes him or herself to daily care of the disabled, giving up a job and relying on benefits paid to the disabled.

Development Partnership's activities have been designed on the basis of long-term surveys and experience of the Foundation for Assistance to Muscular Atrophy Patients and Teaching Care Centre for the Handicapped Children in Police. Activity 1 involved in-depth studies to identify obstacles preventing young people with motor disabilities and their family members from joining social and occupational life effectively and leading to their gradual marginalization.

The following obstacles have been identified: objective ones, arising for disability itself; mental obstacles, associated with education level; legal and economic obstacles and infrastructure-related ones. The Development Partnership is planning to tackle all of these obstacles to prove that a change in occupational status of handicapped youth is feasible.

Three groups will benefit from the Project: 20 young people with motor disabilities aged 16 to 26 years, 40 motor disabled persons of employment age with a muscular condition; and 20 caretakers of disabled children. In addition, a group of motor disabled but intellectually fit people with conditions other than neuromuscular disorders will benefit from the Project. Indirect beneficiaries are entrepreneurs from the service sector in the Zachodniopomorskie Region.

The activities with beneficiaries are intended to improve their education, self-esteem and change their outlook on life. The Development Partnership will provide professional, extensive and individualised rehabilitation. Some of the beneficiaries will follow secondary school curriculum, while other will attend postsecondary or specialised courses. Personal psychological and vocational advice will be given to identify beneficiaries' predispositions and expectations for the elaboration of personal development paths. The Centre's offer of classroom sessions will include activity therapy (newsletter editing, healthy nutrition rules), hands-on sessions, training courses in accounting and office technology, as well as optional training in business and information management. All the participants will follow intensive foreign language and computer courses. To facilitate beneficiaries' access to the planned activities, they will be provided with necessary orthopaedic aids and supportive equipment, as well as with assistance from personal coach.

The second group of beneficiaries will use a dedicated Mobile IT Training Centre equipped with portable computers. Courses delivered at the Centre are intended to improve beneficiaries' skills and support communication with external world. Previous experience of foreign partners has indicated that unrestrained access to the computer and Internet significantly helps to remove communication obstacles and encourages beneficiaries to take a job and improve social fitness. Thanks to the involvement of personal coach, caretakers of the disabled will have an opportunity to follow dedicated courses intended to help them to take teleworking jobs and encourage self-achievement and self-reliance of their protégés.

Financial support measures (training and internship stipends) are foreseen for the beneficiaries to compensate for the loss of welfare benefits following the taking of a job. The Development Partnership will provide those in need with professional transport services.

Internships and placements with partner employers will help the beneficiaries to enter the labour market. A contest "Employer without Barriers" will be held to promote the hiring of disabled persons. Dissemination of Partnerships' experience and achievements will help to change public attitudes: the disabled are to be perceived as active people, while the job of personal coach as an opportunity for employing physically fit jobless people. Employers' involvement will help to promote the idea of socially responsible business.

The Development Partnership has established cooperation with those implementing other projects for the disabled with a view in disseminating the outcomes, or model solutions supporting integration of the disabled. The cooperation is intended to increase the range and strength of awareness campaigns.