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Organisation:Specialisterne IrelandCategory:Medium OrganisationsCharity Reg no. :RCN 202006221. Tell us about the issue(s) this organisation is tackling and why it's important
2. How does your organisation go about tackling these issues?
- Why was the organisation set up? What is it trying to change or do? Why is it important to do this?Specialisterne Ireland is a not-for-profit specialist recruitment agency, committed to supporting individuals on the Autism Spectrum, or who experience similar challenges to obtain and maintain employment. In Ireland 85% of individuals with Autism are under or unemployed. Individuals with a disability are less likely to obtain work experience and have difficulty obtaining a first job (Lindstrom, Kahn & Lindsey, 2013). Through supporting businesses to increase workplace neurodiversity, community and candidate benefit. Individuals hired can reach their personal and professional goals, financial independence and integrate within communities. Businesses are challenged to think differently and increase their communication skills and quality of work.
3. Tell us about a case where the organisation has made a positive difference.
- Explain your organisation's approach to solving the issues you identified in your previous answer. If it has had to adapt its activities in response to COVID-19, how did it do this?We provide support in two phases, firstly to develop candidate’s interview and job readiness skills, and secondly to support ongoing success in the workplace. We are innovative and proactive, working with individuals in third level supporting them to gain employment. We provide training and advice to businesses seeking to expand the neurodiversity of their workforce and work with them to develop Autism friendly hiring processes. Our services are unique, with an emphasis on life-long support for candidates and with partnership with other similar organisations, companies and educational institutions at the heart of our work. In response to Covid we moved our services online, with many candidates obtaining employment remotely.
4. What has the overall impact of this work been and how do you measure it?
- This is your chance to talk about impact in qualitative terms. Provide a case study to illustrate the impact of the organisation’s work. We will accept anonymous case studies if you need to protect the identity of a service user or individuals under 18 years of age. You can include a quote or endorsement if you wish.One individual for whom SPI has made a positive difference is Nick. Nick is in his early 30s and is bright, driven, and a loyal friend. Nick is exceptionally skilled at web development. Nick however struggles with some sensory input, specifically using public transport and wearing office attire. Despite having a degree in Computer Science and incredible self-taught skills, Nick struggled to get a job and was unemployed for 2 and a half years. Nick’s struggles to gain employment were due to his being on the Autism Spectrum. In the past Nick would have remained unemployed, working on websites at home with no financial or social independence, negatively impacting both mental and physical health. Due to the work of Specialisterne, Nick has been employed with for seven years on a permanent contract, doing what he loves. Nick would struggle with workplace expectations and communication, so we worked with his manager to facilitate accommodations. We provided ongoing mentoring to Nick, his team and manager. Nick is now completely financially independent. He has strong social connections and enjoys sharing a few beers with friends in the evenings. Nick now has the confidence to act as a mentor for other individuals on the autism spectrum who are starting out, and advocates for the employment needs of others on the spectrum. Nicks story is emblematic of those of the 300 individuals who we have supported to obtain employment to date.
5. What makes your organisation special?
- How would you describe the overall impact of your organisation’s work? What measures do you use to know if you have been successful at achieving your goals? How do you know what to improve or change in your work? Please include as much evidence as possible to demonstrate your impact.To date Specialisterne Ireland has supported over 800 individuals in moving closer to the workforce and has obtained employment for 300. This year to date, we have supported 99 individuals, of which 60 individuals are being supported in work across 32 partner companies in areas such as IT, finance, PR and Engineering. Our primary measures of effectiveness are numbers in employment, numbers supported through training, number of partner companies and partner colleges. A CRM system is used to monitor progress for 50% of candidates (those funded through the ability program). To date we have exceeded these outcome measures with 90 candidates supported in 21 months (36-month goal of 110). Ongoing candidate and partner feedback is also sought to ensure efficacy of the project. We have recently developed comprehensive assessment tools for ongoing monitoring of the effects of our services. We understand that while everyone’s career journey and needs are unique, there are key milestones which are required to ensure success. These milestones form the backbone of our assessments. Through enhancing our assessment measures, we hope to enhance or services.
6. How can the public support your work?
- What is the organisation’s unique selling-point? What makes the organisation different from others working in the same field/area?We are innovative in that we adopt a proactive approach to supporting employment for adults on the Autism Spectrum. We know the transition from education is important, particularly for those who are Neurodiverse. We are also unique in that we provide ongoing support to a candidate, at no cost to them. This gives a safety net should candidates need advice or experience challenges over time. This support extends to employer managers, for whom we advise and provide guidance on challenges over time. We uniquely impact all facets of Irish society. We support individuals to reach their personal and professional goals. We support businesses to challenge themselves to think differently. We benefit the Irish public through supporting the inclusion of individuals with neurodiversity in the workplace
7. Describe how your organisation is transparent and accountable
- Do you need volunteers? Do you fundraise? Can the public share your story? Give them a call to action.There are a number of ways the public can support our work. We strongly value the role of community champions who strive for more Neurodiverse workplaces. For individuals in employment, you can support our goals by learning more about Autism in the workplace and seeking training or support on how your workplace could become more Neurodiverse. For employers, seeking to expand how Neurodiverse friendly your hiring practices are and actively seeking to add neurodiversity to your teams is vital. Companies such as Specialisterne are available to support and guide these efforts. More broadly, the community can support our work through connecting with us on social media, through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram and sharing our message. We also accept donations through our website.
- For example, do you publish your annual accounts online? Are you compliant with the Charities Regulator's Charities Governance Code? Do you use the Charities Regulator’s Fundraising Principles?Specialisterne Ireland values transparency and accountability in all we do. All accounts are available online through our website, including our Annual Statement of Accounts 2019. We are committed to transparency in donations and adhere to a donor’s charter which outlines our commitment to those who support our work. Good governance practices are of the utmost importance to us and we are working towards compliance with the Charities Regulator's Charities Governance Code. As an organisation we are transparent with our stakeholders. We are upfront with candidates on our process. We move at their pace and will always be honest and open in any advice we give. We embed stakeholders views in the organisation through seeking input on strategic planning, and service delivery and encourage feedback