Education news

People with learning disabilities recognised for achievements

Jack Gardiner (24) from Bangor joined Orchardville in 2016 and now has a paid job at Titanic Belfast

MORE than 100 people with learning disabilities or autism are today to have their achievements recognised.

The annual Orchardville Awards ceremony 2018 will take place at Titanic Belfast.

The winner of the Joanna Tuffy Endeavour Award will also be unveiled. It recognises an Orchardville service user who has shown true endeavour in all their actions and attitudes to work, development and personal motivation throughout the past year, showing that nothing can hold them back.

Orchardville is a charity which supports people with learning disabilities and/or autism, promoting empowerment and independence. It enables the development of life skills that are transferable into employment and life in general.

The charity, which has offices in east Belfast, Bangor, Lisburn and Derry, provides accredited training and skills development. These include occupational and vocational skills, wellbeing support, skills for life and work, OCN (Open College Network) accredited training, school transitions services and work placements.

Chief executive Joan McGinn said the awards recognised the progress and achievements of people in getting paid employment, completing qualifications and overcoming barriers to progression.

"Orchardville supports people with a learning disability to prepare for a job, learn new skills, grow as a person, try new things, meet people and become more independent," she said.

"We very much focus on the person's ability, not disability, and this greatly helps to build their confidence to get a job or work voluntarily.

"Orchardville works closely with over 100 employers across Northern Ireland encouraging and supporting them to provide structured and meaningful work placements and employment opportunities."

One of the award recipients is Jack Gardiner (24) from Bangor who joined Orchardville in 2016 and now has a paid job at Titanic Belfast.

"I have always been interested in working in the catering industry. As I had no qualifications or experience within this career I had to start at the beginning. I took up a place in Orchard Café in East Belfast which is an internal training hub of Orchardville that gives on the job training. It gave me an understanding of the role and what was expected of me. I absolutely loved the experience and was sure I had picked the right career path for myself," he said.

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