How we can help Work Meet Lauren who's helping disabled people find paid work Posted 08.07.2020 Lauren Portis is a Supported Employment Officer with the Job Match programme at Disability Action and over the last two and a half years has supported disabled people in the Newry, Armagh and Craigavon areas to find paid work. Watch and listen to Lauren's short videos on what her job entails, what she likes best about her job and what challenges she meets in her job. Hi my name is Lauren Portis and I’m an Supported Employment Officer with the Job Match programme at Disability Action. I’ve worked with Disability Action for over two and a half years, specifically in the Newry, Armagh and Craigavon areas supporting disabled people to find paid work. To date the participants that I have supported have been successful in achieving employment in a range of different jobs and with various employers such as a Sales Assistant with Pound Stretchers, Grounds Keeper with the Killeavy Castle Hotel, an Associate Applications Developer with Almac and a Technology Consultant with PwC. Through their hard work, their dedication and their motivation and with the support from Job Match it has been great to see them (participants) grow, achieve and reach their goals. What I enjoy most about my job My job is very varied. Where one day I could be meeting with a client one to one, helping to compile a CV, complete an application form, or even to complete a mock interview - to the next day meeting with an employer on site and discussing how Job Match can help meet their recruitment needs. The part of my job which I enjoy most is to see the development and growth of the participants that I’m working with. From the initial stages where most people come to me feeling very low in confidence and not really having any self-esteem and not seeing what they can offer to an employer; but through hard work, through experience of speaking with employers and applying for jobs and just having someone that they can talk to and build them up - by the time they finish with myself I can see such a growth where they have such strong self-esteem and they understand what their self-worth is and can actually see what it is they can offer to an employer. Challenges of the job With any job however there are challenges and non are more evident than currently with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a programme we have now moved to working from home and this means we are now facing new difficulties and challenges both for myself and also for my participants. But I want to ensure that I am providing the same level of service and support to be able to help participants to reach their goals and their full potential. We are using technology such as Zoom and MS Teams. I’ve been able to virtually meet with participants to help them to compile CVs, to edit their current CVs, to apply for different jobs, job searching and also to give them mock interviews to help prepare them for when they are out with an employer again. Naturally though for some people searching for jobs is not at the forefront of their minds due to their own current health conditions and therefore I want to ensure that I am there for them, that they can come and speak to me, that I can alleviate any of their fears and help really to prepare them for when the world returns to some degree of normality. And even though COVID-19 is still very much here, I hope that, if there are any disabled people out there who would like to try to move towards the world of work and would like to try and see what it is they can offer to employers, that they can come to me and come to Job Match to get that support. We are open and here to anyone who would like to avail of the support that we can give to help them reach their goals and their full potential. Read more about the Job Match programme.