The Millennium Forum embarked on an exciting project called “Achieve Beyond” in 2019 in partnership with Foyleside Shopping Centre, Arts and Business N.I. and Stage Beyond (a theatre group for adults with learning difficulties).
Over a three month period, the Millennium Forum and Foyleside worked on a pilot training project which equipped young adults with learning difficulties with the skills to help them in the working world. Carried out by utilising drama and role play and professional drama facilitators experienced with working with adults with disabilities. Stage Beyond helped the Millennium Forum recruit and train participants. After training, participants were offered work placement and mentors with the Forum and the neighbouring Foyleside Shopping Centre. Feedback was excellent from participants and their new co-workers.
Various skills were explored and learned. The course was tailored to a customer service based environment, and to the needs of the participants. “Achieve Beyond” helped participants to take instructions, greet customers and answer customer queries.
Objectives and Results
The objective of Achieve Beyond was to create a more diverse workplace, for both the Millennium Forum and Foyleside Shopping Centre.
We are committed to making the customer experience at Foyleside and Millennium Forum (who are next door neighbours) as accessible as possible by breaking down barriers, this also applies to recruitment and staffing. Both companies wanted to build on their award winning Access initiatives and build awareness of disabilities (or the ability of people living with disabilities) and hidden disabilities, amongst customers and employees.
What the project did was create new friendships amongst participants and Millennium Forum staff and Foyleside. It also created real employment opportunities for young disabled adults with the Millennium Forum and our sponsor Foyleside, with 3 participants now working as ushers and as Box Office staff, Foyleside have also taken on board recommendations to make shopping easier made by one of our participants who had autism.
The professional support boosted participants confidence and motivation and general coping strategies, the participants were an excellent asset to both organisations This project was such a success that we intend to run accredited courses in the future here at the Millennium Forum and in conjunction with business partners and funders.