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Julie Leonard, who specialises in employment law, is a solicitor at Edwards and Co Solicitors, www.edwardsandcompany.co.uk Employers must ensure that they treat employees with disabilities the same as other workers. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has set out some special provisions in regard to how disabled employees should be treated. Under the DDA legislation it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities for a reason related to their disability, in all aspects of employment, unless this can be justified. The Act covers things like recruitment and selection as well as other areas including: • Job descriptions and…

Image: Students enjoying their class at the Belfast Community Circus School Brian Pelan reports on an innovative project at the Belfast Community Circus School On a cold day in February, a group of students warmed everyone up with their laughter and enthusiasm at the Belfast Community Circus School An excellent project, which started three years ago, has linked up Belfast Met students with learning disabilities and the circus. The students learn to use circus routines as a way to develop team building, self-confidence and literacy and numeracy skills. Allison Anderson, Curriculum Area Manager for the Centre for Supported Learning at…

Image: Retired teacher Mairead O’Halloran with eight-year-old Fiona Henderson By Una Murphy A former school vice principal is among a team of volunteer retired teachers who have chalked up five years bridging the gap for children with additional educational needs. “Fifteen schools, eighty volunteers and 500 children”, Mairead O’Halloran, who worked at St Louise’s Comprehensive College in west Belfast said proudly of the ‘Back On Track’ programme She signed up to the innovative scheme run by the charity Sólás after reading an appeal for retired teachers to get involved and found one of her former pupils Anne Cahill was the co-ordinator.…

In recent months it has emerged that Northern Ireland, Scotland and most probably even Wales will retain the Independent Living Fund i(ILF) in some form. However, the reprieve may only be temporary and England is still on course to close the fund in June 2015. The show, A is for Activism by Brian Hilton, reflects use of the arts as a tool to create online campaign images. Brian Hilton said: “As a disabled person with high support needs, the ILF enables me and other disabled people to live with choice and dignity in the community rather than locked away in a…

By John Coghlan, Director, Disability Aid Abroad People with disabilities in developing countries are the forgotten voice of international development aid, and they need specific targeted help. In many developing countries disability is seen as a social and cultural stigma, and that access to health services, education and employment opportunities are denied to disabled people. The United Nations estimates that there are almost 800 million people living in Africa, 50 million of who are disabled. These one in 16 Africans form the highest proportion of Africa’s disadvantaged population: only two per cent have access to any form of rehabilitation; 90…

UK Charity AbilityNet has been a leading authority on accessibility and assistive technologies for 20 years and provides a range of free services for disabled people, their family and friends, their employers and other people who care for them. They have been showcasing technology to help disabled people to MPs. The parliamentary showcase of accessible technology which organised by the Digital Accessibility Alliance, which AbilityNet supports. AbilityNet’s Head of Digital Inclusion Robin Christopherson said: “Acccessible and inclusive technology is now all around us thanks to the advent of smartphones and tablets. It’s so much easier for disabled people to customise…

Show your support for Meningitis Research Foundation and sign up for this 4km sponsored walk in the beautiful surroundings of the Stormont Estate. Your support could help to save a life. Meningitis Research Foundation is commemorating its’ 25th Anniversary during 2015. Will you help us do this and sign up for our ‘Stroll Around Stormont’ event on Sunday 1st March 2015.  The Foundation would like to encourage people to take part in this stunning walk on the Stormont Estate and help raise vital funds for the charity. This 4km circular walk will follow the ‘Long Woodland Walk’ through the picturesque grounds of the estate taking…

Solicitor Jenny Ebbage explains why it’s vital that your charity must register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland You cannot have escaped the news recently that all charities in Northern Ireland must register with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI). We have been advising a number of charities on their registration requirements. All charities should check that they are on one of the CCNI lists and make sure that they know what action to take. There is a deadline of December 31, 2014, to notify the CCNI of the charity’s existence if the charity is not already on…

SPEAKING FRANKLY By VIEW columnist Harry Reid Thank you for contacting MaLAise 108, the helpline for elected representatives. As we’re currently experiencing a high volume of calls, we ask you to either be patient and hold until one of our operators becomes available or select one of the following options, which we believe, will cover the majority of your concerns. Press one if you’re enquiring about the location of the next meeting of the All Party Craft Group featuring illusionist Dynamo, who will be demonstrating how to make a Trojan Horse from a yogurt pot for MaLAise committed to displaying…

Image: Roger Smith speaking at the recent Northern Ireland Law Centre’s AGM in Belfast The recent AGM of the Northern Ireland Law Centre in Belfast discussed a range of issues, including how advice agencies are looking for new solutions to meet increasing demand in the face of a tough economic climate. Roger Smith, former director of Legal Action Group and JUSTICE and an expert in legal aid and access to justice, gave the Law Centre’s audience of voluntary sector advisers, members of the legal profession and civil servants an overview of innovative models of online services coupled with telephone and face…

Image: Shadow Secretary of Northern Ireland Ivan Lewis, left, with Professor Deirdre Heenan and Colin Anderson at the launch of the Commission in Belfast The Labour Party has launched a review on tackling inequality in Northern Ireland. The Heenan-Anderson Commission will address issues ranging from improving early childhood development and educational attainment to promoting more new businesses. It will also focus on the implications of efforts to encourage the growth of the private sector following decades of violence which deterred entrepreneurs from setting up in Northern Ireland. Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Ivan Lewis said: “It seems to me it is crucial…

By Stephanie Mitchell, coordinator of Belfast Friendship Club Looking round Belfast Friendship Club (BFC) on a Thursday evening, at what seems like a huge and unruly family of 40 to 60 people, I sometimes wonder how many other settings exist that attract such a diverse bunch of individuals who seem to have so much in common and, between them, create such a happy atmosphere. One element of my role is to ‘hold’ this space. From many walks of life and from all over the world, including these islands, we are caterers, writers, au pairs, cleaners, students, artists, academics, volunteers, interpreters,…

By Una Murphy Inequality in Britain is now back to the 1840s, it has been claimed at a recent event held in Belfast. Michael Pyer from Developments Trusts NI told the group’s first policy symposium that in some areas of Britain creeping privatisation had followed the grounding down of local government services. The meeting had been called to discuss development issues within the Third Sector (Voluntary, Community, Social Enterprise). Delegates heard that big private companies often failed to deliver effective services – such as G4S at the London Olympics. Neil Berry from Locality in England said there was a huge…

The battle against alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland is being boosted by a health initiative announced today by the Big Lottery Fund. The Big Lottery Fund is investing £4.2 million into an alcohol-related harm prevention and awareness programme. Run in partnership with Addiction NI and its partners, it will support people aged over 50 living in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area. The Drink Wise, Age Well project is part of the UK-wide Rethink Good Health programme aimed at those aged 50 and over, an age group that can find themselves drinking more for a variety of reasons,…

By Tom Hickey Columnist Water meter installers arrived in our estate some months ago but no one protested. They carried out their work but didn’t install a meter outside my home for technical reasons. And then residents began blocking the installers in Cork. Good old Rebel Cork. That action quickly spread nationwide and culminated recently in a huge protest in Dublin. In the years of austerity following the Republic’s banking disaster criticism of extra taxes like Universal Social Charges were loud and consistent. As taxes went up and services to the disabled, the disadvantaged and marginalised sectors were reduced, voices…

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