The region’s largest local authority has been recognised for its for its forward-thinking work to improve employment opportunities for disabled people in County Durham.
Durham County Council has once again been awarded Disability Confident Leader Level 3 status by the Department for Work and Pensions.
As a Disability Confident Leader, the council aims to improve recruitment and retention rates of disabled people within the council and work with businesses locally to improve disability employment rates countywide
Since the initial accreditation three years ago, the council has established a staff disability and allies’ network, which continues to grow and provide support for disabled staff as well as acting as a voice as to how improvements can be made.
Mark Colman, chair of the disability staff network, said:
“Since joining the council over 16 years ago, my experience has been very positive. Anything identified as a barrier to my work was adjusted. The support from Access to Work, a genuine crown jewel of the welfare state, is invaluable.
“I am delighted that we have renewed our Disability Confident accreditation and look forward to the network continuing to provide peer support, raise awareness and act as a voice for colleagues with disabilities and health conditions so that we can fulfil our potential in serving the people of County Durham.”
Initiatives such as DurhamEnable, which helps County Durham residents who are facing barriers into employment due to disabilities or other long-term conditions, find long-term, fulfilling jobs, have also contributed to the accreditation
Cllr Alan Shield, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said:
“I am delighted in our latest recognition as a Disability Confident Leader. As a large employer it is vital that we celebrate our disability inclusion journey, recognising the skills and talents of our workforce and highlight the support we can offer to ensure disabled employees can secure and retain work with us.
“As a leader organisation we will continue to champion being Disability Confident within the local business community and through our employability programmes. We will also be encouraging and supporting other local employers to become Disability Confident through our schemes such as DurhamEnable.”
Richard Hastings, disability employment advisor at the DWP, said:
“Within the Durham Tees Valley area, we have 515 employers currently signed up to the scheme, only 18 of which have achieved Level 3 leader status, so it’s a fantastic achievement for Durham County Council and long may that dedication to inclusion and diversity continue.”
For more information on DurhamEnable visit, www.durham.gov.uk/DurhamEnable