The Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton officially launched a pilot project at Bellingham Castle on Friday aimed at helping young people with disabilities between 16-24 to access mainstream employment, education and training.
The programme is called WALK PEER and is being piloted here in Louth. If successful it could be used throughout the country.
“I am delighted to have been in a position to provide joint funding with the European Social Fund to support the young people participating in this programme which leads towards paid employment,” Minister Burton said.
“PEER stands for Providing Equal Employment Routes and the WALK PEER programme supports participants to bridge any gaps that they might have towards getting and keeping paid work in a mainstream setting. The programme complements my department’s commitment to supporting people with a disability to participate more fully in society and the workplace supports available from the department to assist employees with disabilities,” the minister said.
The programme is one of 14 disability activation projects being funded by the Department of Social Protection and the European Social Fund across the Border Midlands West region. Despite only starting this year, the team is already working with almost 80 young people across the county. They are also recruiting 100 young people to become volunteer PEER mentors to support their participants in attaining their goals.
Gráinne Berrill, programme co-ordinator believes the project will be a great success.
“It has been absolutely fantastic to see so many young people attend today who, with a bit of support, have made the leap into mainstream employment and education,” she said.
“Since setting up this programme in Louth we have found that there is a definite gap for the type of support we are giving to young people with disabilities in this area, and most probably further afield, and hope to continue providing that support in the longer term.”
The event was a great success and the WALK PEER Programme team were delighted to have been the first public event in the historic Bellingham Castle, a beautiful venue which officially opens next year.
Labour Senator Mary Moran said she was delighted to attend attended the official launch of the WALK PEER Programme.
“I was delighted to attend the launch and meet the fantastic team for the Louth WALK PEER programme.” Senator Moran said.
“The WALK PEER programme is a great local and social project as it affords young people with disabilities the opportunity to access routes of education and employment and helps them discover their own potential.
“Programmes like this provide an extremely valuable service to local young people with disabilities as it sets them on a path to realise goals.”