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New initiative to help people with disabilities to advance

Wednesday, 5th March, 2014 2:28pm

New initiative to help people with disabilities to advance

Elizabeth White of the National Learning Network.

A new free assessment, career guidance and job-seeking service has been launched by the National Learning Network (NLN) in Westmeath.

The Personal Employment Pathway service (PEP) aims to provide support and assistance to people with disabilities who are looking to advance their careers by gaining further qualifications or obtaining employment.

The NLN is inviting people to join the programme, which has commenced in its centres in the Blyry Industrial Estate, Athlone and Fair Green House, Mullingar.

To secure a place on the programme participants must be aged between 16 and 65 years of age; be in receipt of a disability benefit payment such as disability allowance, invalidity pension, injury benefit, illness benefit, blind pension, disablement benefit, and incapacity supplement and be resident in Westmeath.

An outreach service in communities will be available for those who are not in a position to attend one of the urban centres. Participation in the service does not affect social welfare payments.

The PEP service, which will be delivered by NLN facilitators, will include a one-to-one assessment of the participant’s individual needs, career planning, job-seeking skills, and training and education supports.

Adrian Stewart, NLN regional manager, explains: “Our instructors will work with each person individually to identify their strengths, weaknesses and skill gaps before drawing up a tailored education and training plan. Here in the National Learning Network, we focus on a person-centred approach and we put a strong emphasis on identifying and finding solutions to any personal barriers and challenges that are preventing the person from returning to employment.”

The programme is part of the Department of Social Protection’s Disability Activation Project, which is jointly funded by the European Social Fund and the Department of Social Protection and managed by Pobal.

For more information on the programme, call: 086 1740793 or 090 6475297 (Athlone) /044 934 5117 (Mullingar): or email

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