Work programme to benefit those with disabilities

16 November 2011 | Story by Newsroom

Madri EngelbrechtCaring hands: Madri Engelbrecht has started a successful programme to help people with disabilities find employment.

"Rewarding, inspiring, energising."

These are the three words which Madri Engelbrecht, a clinical educator in the occupational therapy division of the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, uses to describe the work she does running a supported employment programme from the Vanguard Community Health Centre.

Supported employment is an approach that assists unemployed people with disabilities to enter or return to the open labour market. The supported employment programme, which Engelbrecht kicked off last year, serves work seekers with disabilities living in the Bonteheuwel and Langa communities.

"The difficult circumstances that exist in these communities mean that many people are seeking work opportunities. People with disabilities face even bigger difficulties in obtaining employment, even though they are able and motivated to work," Engelbrecht says.

The programme, she explains, came about after a needs assessment her team did in the Bonteheuwel/Langa area.

"Because of the of high unemployment rate, specifically among people with disabilities - most of whom said they really wanted to work - supported employment seemed like an appropriate strategy at community level. We wanted to get people back into work quickly."

Plans for the programme include making it sustainable, creating a post for a dedicated occupational therapist, and maybe registering the programme as an NGO.

For now, the programme is going "very well", with a number of people being placed in employment.

"It is such a rewarding programme. The students working in it inspire me constantly with their energy and initiative. If we continue to build on that, it will be great."

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