Posted 19.11.2020

Workable NI programme supports disabled people in the workplace. Lisa Blackery-Prince is a Workable NI Employment and Training Officer. Her story, below, features in the LondonDerry Chamber of Commerce CONNECT magazine.

Denis Nurse has worked for his current employer the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 29 years. He has had a long and varied career and has worked through and experienced many changes and developments.

When Denis was a child he had a serious accident which resulted in him developing epilepsy. Denis’ epilepsy was something which he learned to live with and had to accept that challenges that it presented.

He had to accept that certain life skills like learning to drive would not be an option for him. He had to manage taking lifelong medication and the risks associated with taking uncontrolled seizures. Going out independently was one of those risks as Denis could have a seizure at any time of day in any place. But Denis accepted these risks and learned to navigate his life around his epilepsy.

The workplace is always an area of challenge and progression especially if like Denis you have worked for the same employer over several decades. Time and modernity ensure that change is inevitable. There were some changes that became difficult for Denis to manage around systems and procedures. This caused him high anxiety and an increased incidence of seizures which left Denis concerned about his ability to cope in work.

Denis was referred for support through the Workable NI Programme with the aim of increasing his resilience and confidence and agreeing adjustments to help him manage his work tasks. Lisa Blackery-Prince is the Employment and Training Officer in the area and Lisa then arranged to meet with both Denis and his employer to agree a way forward.

An Action Plan with a menu of supports was drawn up to include 1-1 mentoring, capacity building and reasonable adjustments in addition to an agreed schedule of support visits.

Through engagement with Workable NI, Denis had the benefit of a designated Employment and Training Officer that he met with regularly. Lisa was able to liaise with his line manager to offer an insight into the particular difficulties that Denis was experiencing until he felt reassured and confident with the new changes at work. Denis’ stress levels reduced, his fear of seizures reduced and most importantly the incidence of seizures reduced.

The Workable NI Programme is funded by the Department of Communities and aims to help disabled people who are experiencing difficulties secure or maintain employment. The Programme is person centered and offers the employer an insight into disability that can often be lost or misunderstood. It also offers an employer advice and guidance on disability related issues.

Working with individuals with disabilities is the best disability awareness training that an employer can experience and in this way we progress and change attitudes. Denis’ line manager welcomed the individual tailored approach that was able to tackle and resolve issues as they arose.

To obtain further information on Workable NI, please contact

Lisa Blackery-Prince, Employment Support Officer at:

Disability Action, Gortfoyle House, Spencer Road, Derry/Londonderry, BT47 6AE, Tel: 028 7136 0811. Mob: 07944 361393, email: [email protected]

View the article in the LondonDerry Chamber of Commerce CONNECT magazine

Read more about how Workable NI can support you in the workplace.