Announced: Winners of the Donegal Disability Employer Equality Awards. At the heart of these awards is the shared vision of a more inclusive society by promoting diversity within the workforce.
Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC), The Bluestack Foundation and Donegal Children and Young People's Services Committee (CYPSC) were delighted to recently host the inaugural Employer Equality Awards. By acknowledging the contributions of local businesses that prioritise equal opportunities, the Disability Employer Equality Awards aim to inspire others to follow suit and create a positive ripple effect throughout the region.
The Employer Equality Awards shone a spotlight on businesses that are leading the way in creating equitable and inclusive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in two distinct categories
- Businesses Actively Employing People with Disabilities
- Businesses Providing Work Experience to those with Disabilities.
The ‘Businesses Actively Employing People with Disabilities Award’ was awarded to Kelly’s Centra, Letterkenny for demonstrating a steadfast commitment to integrating individuals with disabilities into their workforce and fostering an environment where diversity is valued.
Highly commended in this category were Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey and Macs Mace & Deli, Letterkenny.
Commenting on the win, Mairtín Kelly, Managing Director, Kelly’s Centra & American Diner, said:
“At Kelly’s Centra, we’ve made employing people with disabilities a core value of our business as we believe everyone should have the same opportunities in life. We believe in seeing the ability in all people, whether they have a disability or not. We have a phrase that we use, ‘We have a seat on the bus for everyone.’ It is our job as managers to get the right seat for you. This award means so much to the business – not just for me personally – but for the fantastic team we have working there.”
The ’Businesses Providing Work Experience to those with Disabilities Award’ was awarded to Kavanagh’s Supervalu, Dungloe for offering valuable work experience opportunities to individuals with disabilities, contributing to their personal growth and professional development.
McNulty’s XL Shop Donegal and Animals in Need Charity Shop were highly commended in this category.
Speaking at the awards, Anne McEleney from Kavanagh’s SuperValu, Dungloe, said;
“We are very much part of the community as a store, so for us, it goes without saying that we would try our best, when someone approaches us for support, we do our best. We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award!"
Guest speaker at the event, Jack Campbell, said:
“Seeking employment was where I first encountered my disability as a hurdle. It was very challenging securing a job – it was rejection after rejection. It was fate that introduced me to Mairtín Kelly from Kelly’s Centra. With Mairtín's belief in the capabilities of all people, I secured a job at Kelly's Centra and eventually rose to the role of Assistant Manager. This experience opened doors for me, and I leveraged it to secure a position at United Healthcare in Letterkenny. My journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, mentorship, and the belief that every individual has the potential to shine."
The Employer Equality Awards was an evening of celebration, recognition, and inspiration, offering attendees the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, share insights, and foster collaborations that further the cause of inclusivity in the workplace. The event's Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Noel Cunningham, renowned for his significant contributions to various community endeavours, guided attendees through the event.
This event would not have been possible without the efforts of the Adjudication Panel which included Liam Ward, Director of Services at Donegal County Council; Gerry Hone, Regional Chief Officer at Tusla; Edel Quinn from Disability Services HSE; Toni Forrestor, CEO of Letterkenny Chamber; and Leonard Watson, a respected business owner. Their diverse expertise and perspectives brought depth and a wealth of experience to the adjudication of the 30 businesses nominated by the public.
The Progressive Pathways Information Guide, developed by Donegal CYPSC, The Disability Equality Training workshops and the Donegal Directory of Disability Services 3rd Edition developed by the Bluestack Foundation were also launched at this event.
Finally, the event organisers Louise Brogan from Donegal Local Development CLG and Anne Timony Meehan Co-ordinator of Donegal CYPSC, would like to sincerely thank all those who supported and attended the inaugural Disability Employers Equality Awards Event 2023. This event is one of 4 distinct activities in the Donegal CYPSC Disability Equality Project funded under Healthy Ireland.
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