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Leonard Cheshire Disability: Access to Livelihoods

Women and men with disabilities can and want to be productive members of society. Promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for people with disabilities requires improved access to…vocational training relevant to labour market needs and jobs suited to their skills, interests and abilities.International Labor Organization

‘Access to Livelihoods’ programme

People with disabilities frequently encounter barriers when trying to secure employment including physical access to buildings; lack of access to training; poor understanding of disability issues from employers or trainers who do not understand their needs nor recognise their potential.

With  financial support from Accenture, Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) took on  project ‘Access to Livelihoods” with an ambitious goal to pioneer a scalable model that would increase the economic participation of people with disabilities around the world. LCD piloted (in 2008: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan) and then rolled out (in 2011:4 original countries plus the Philippines) Access to Livelihoods, building the skills and confidence of people with disabilities, while challenging local skills providers, employers, policy makers and the media to change their perceptions of disability and work with LCD to create greater opportunities for people of all abilities to succeed in work or enterprise.

Access to Livelihoods is successfully proven to improve the life opportunities of people with disabilities whilst highlighting the positive contribution this workforce canmake to the economy. 

Some of the highlights are:

  • Increased participation: Over 3 years and 13 locations (SE Asia),people with disabilities are equipped with new skills and many of them have started a job or built a business.
  • Over 12,000 people with disabilities have received skills training and about 8000  are employed or have started their own business since 2008.
  • Job creation: Nearly 400 employers (Accenture, Vodafone, Aegis, Intercontinental Hotels, ITC Hotels, British Council, Standard Chartered, Infosys, Coca Cola, IBM, Concentrix, Thomson Reuters, Aegis, SERGO, many garment units, EMC2, Bank of America, Shell, Lemon Tree Hotels, Marriot, many QSRs) have embraced the initiative, including PwD in their workforce. 
    Sharing best practice: LCD disseminated learning at the highest level with specific mention of Access to Livelihoods and Accenture’s support at the Select Committee hearing on ‘Disability and Development’, UK Parliament (January 2014); International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 2013) at UN headquarters; and at the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties (also at UNHQ, September 2012) on ‘The Right to Earn a Living’.
  • Pro-bono support and Accenture Development Partnerships(ADP) engagement: LCD has received an incredible amount of personal support from Accenture employees in India and the Philippines, who have given time – many on weekends – to prepare candidates for interviews and support LCD staff to deliver training.
  • In addition, pro-bono support via ADP helped LCD strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of the programme through a ‘Monitoring Database’ developed on a 6-month assignment in 2012. The tool has now been rolled out across all current project locations and will be improved and adapted for use in South Africa to improve impact reporting, project management and tracking of livelihoods trends.
  • Also set up a dedicated portal ( promoting employability of people with disabilities connecting employees-employers –service providers. This also being evolved as a knowledge hub for disability sector.
  • Replication in new locations: Leveraging this partnership with Accenture has enabled LCD to secure additional funding to replicate the programme in new geographies. To date, the Kadoorie and Anglo American Group Foundations have respectively supported the programme to launch in China and Zimbabwe, while the European Union has funded Access to Livelihoods in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. This has enabled LCD to support over 50,000 people with disabilities and their families to benefit from greater economic participation.
Global Recognition: In December 2012, the Zero Project’s renowned disability and employment experts chose Access to Livelihoods as an outstanding example of ‘Innovative Practice’ relating to people with disabilities and employment.  

How Access to Livelihoods works

Access to Livelihoodsis delivered through local Cheshire partners’ via a network of Livelihoods Resource Centres. These ‘one-stop-shops’ provide training courses; career guidance and counselling; and open job placements or employment opportunities for people with disabilities.  

Links with national and local companies across multiple sectors including IT/ITES/BPO, Retail, Finance, Hospitality and Manufacturing help open employment opportunities. We also work with training and financial institutes, microfinance providers plus local and national policy makers to support people with disabilities into work and campaign for change.

The Current phase of the project

The current phase of the ‘Access to Livelihoods’ project started in July 2014 is  aimed to  support over 13000 disabled people in 6 countries (including Asia and Africa ) to acquire new skills, and over 10,000 of those to secure a job or start a business in the next three years.  The main focus will be on improving the economic contribution and resilience of project beneficiaries; targeting 50% increase in individuals’ income levels alongside better-quality and more sustainable work.

India: There are currently 6 Livelihoods Resource Centresdelivering the programme. This includes Bangalore, Nagapattinam, Coimbatore, Delhi , Mumbai and Kolkota. In addition 10 Satellite Centres are also operating as part of our scaling up strategies. There is huge potential for replication and expansion to other locations.

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