Date: 09 Jan 2023
Category: Jobs and skills
How can neurodivergent employees be better supported in the workplace? That was a key question posed at a Belfast City Hall ‘mini-summit’ this morning, attended by employability practitioners working in the city.
Today’s event was the first in a series of theme-based workshops being delivered by Belfast City Council in partnership with the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP).
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Tina Black, who opened the event, said: “We’ve hosted this mini-summit in partnership with the IEP as part of our part of our employability and skills programme of support for practitioners. But it’s also an important part of our wider Belfast Agenda work to ensure that the city is an inclusive place, where everyone benefits from a thriving and prosperous economy and can fulfil their potential.
“Everyone in our society deserves to be able to work and to have their needs supported in their workplace. So, we’ve been fortunate to be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise that IEP Fellows Kevin Moore and Suzanne Eusman, have in the fields of mental health and neurodiversity. It’s been great to see how fully engaged our delegates have been by their lively, interactive sessions. Everyone has grasped the opportunity to network with peers and colleagues too – so I think there’ll be a lot of learning taken back to workplaces.”
Scott Parkin FIEP, Chief Executive of IEP said; “I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet employability practitioners from Belfast at the mini-summit and hear first-hand some of the challenges and priorities they are facing in frontline service provision. It was heartening to hear their stories about the fantastic work they do every day to help people improve their lives by supporting or progressing them into sustained work.
“Through our partnership with Belfast City Council, the IEP aims to provide a network of excellence and best practice, as well as creating a benchmark of quality delivery across employability and skills in Belfast. We look forward to extending the benefits we offer to even more practitioners across the city and the rest of Northern Ireland.”
The first seminar of the day ‘Your Mind Matters’, facilitated live and online by Kevin Moore of social enterprise Big Dog Little Dog, encouraged delegates to explore mental health, mental illness and the relationship between our psychological wellbeing and the workplace. Kevin commented: “I’m really pleased to be starting my 2023 by contributing to this event. Nobody is in any doubt about the increase in mental health challenges which recent years have brought, and the prevalence of mental health issues in the country. I really enjoyed helping our members better understand the subject matter - not just for their customers, but for their own lives and workplaces.”
Head of Specialist Employment Services at Autism Plus, Suzanne Eusman FIEP facilitated a second session ‘Neurodiversity: Changing Perceptions’, giving an overview of neurodiversity and how to change employer perceptions, as well as providing options for low cost, reasonable adjustments to support neurodivergent employees at work, illustrated by case studies.
Suzanne said: “I was absolutely delighted to join the IEP mini-summit to share my knowledge on neurodiversity in the workplace. We need to be working together to highlight the skills that neurodivergent adults can bring to the workplace and I was honoured to be able to share knowledge with employability practitioners across the city. The prevalence rates of autism across Northern Ireland are much higher than the rest of the UK, with over 3,000 school aged children currently with an autism diagnosis in Belfast alone. We need to be forward planning and creating opportunities to ensure that these young people are valued and are able to access meaningful employment now, and in the future.”
To find out more about this morning’s event, follow #IEPMiniSummit on Twitter, and for more on how Belfast City Council is supporting employability and skills, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/employabilityandskills