EQuip

Logos of the organisations involved in the EQuip project. They are, volunteering Wales, WCVA, Welsh Government and Disability Wales

EQuip – Connecting Universities and Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs) across Wales

The Funding

Disability Wales has received £19,720.80 from the Volunteering Wales Grant, which is organised by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA). This funding is for a new project called EQuip. 

The Project

Building on our experience with student placements and Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs), we will be organising work experience for disabled students with a variety of DPOs across Wales. 

What is a DPO?

DPOs are organisations led by and for disabled people, with a minimum of 51% of their membership/board/trustees identifying as being disabled.

How long are the placements and who can apply?

These placements will be over 4-8 weeks, working twice a week or once a week respectively. These placements will be available to all disabled university students between the ages of 18 and 25.

We shall accept students who have finished their final year until the start of the next academic year. Please remember that this project only runs until the end of March 2022.

Disability Wales is a strong advocate for the Social Model of Disability. As such, we will not require evidence of a diagnosis to apply. Instead, we shall ask what barriers you face as a disabled person.

All placements and meetings will be held remotely so changes in restrictions do not affect students. This also improves the range of people who can be reached due to not relying on travelling to specific places.

How will the funding be spent?

Most of the funding will go towards having a specific project officer for the EQuip project. This person will be responsible for communication between universities, students and DPOs as well as the general development of the project. 

Our EQuip project officer is Leandra and can be contacted by emailing leandra.craine@disabilitywales.org 

In addition to this, some of the funding will also go towards the development of case studies through videos or written pieces, as well as initial promotion of the project.

Goals

We are aiming to work towards 3 of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Goals.

A Wales of Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language

There are several DPOs in Wales that are involved in campaigning for better access to heritage sites, the natural environment and participation in art and creative activities. Through this project, students will be helping to build the capacity of the DPOs in their work. In addition to this, we will have an active interest in having Welsh speaking students involved in placements, assisting DPOs to develop simple bilingual communications which could be continued after the student’s placement has ended. This will help us work towards a Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language.

A Prosperous Wales

There are two key issues when looking at making a prosperous Wales. First, Disabled Peoples Organisations struggle with capacity due to a dwindling number of volunteers as well as a lack of sustainable, long term funding. Disability Wales noted a marked decline in membership of DPOs during the same five-year period as the levels of poverty amongst disabled people increased in 2013. Feedback from Disability Wales’ members suggests volunteering for DPOs has declined as would-be volunteers have had to focus more on securing enough income to survive.

Secondly, there is currently a 31% employment gap for disabled people [1]. Through this project, disabled students will gain invaluable work experience which will provide them with a better chance at employment. This will in turn help decrease the employment gap and poverty gap currently seen in the disabled community.

A More Equal Wales

To work towards a more equal Wales, an understanding of the reasons of the employment gap is required. In 2008, a review of the labour market in relation to disabled people provided some insights into this[2]. There were several factors that influenced the employment gap. These were:

  • Employer perceptions of lower productivity amongst disabled people relative to non-disabled peers
  • Employer discrimination
  • Disabled people with impairments or health conditions that practically preclude their engagement from certain occupations 
  • The utility of low wage employment does not outweigh that of social care benefits for some disabled people

In another research paper, it was concluded that ‘the low employment rate of people with disabilities is not due to their reluctance to work’[3]. Using case studies from this project, we can actively challenge the negative perceptions regarding disabled employees, which will help work towards a more equal Wales.

How to get involved

If you are interested in this project, either as a DPO looking to host students, university wanting to advertise this opportunity, or student wanting to find out more, please contact our EQuip project officer by emailing leandra.craine@disabilitywales.org 

References

[1] Business_Wales. (n.d.). Disabled People’s Employment. Retrieved 07 01, 2021, from https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/disabled-peoples-employment

[2] Jones, M. (2008). Disability and the Labour Market: A review of the empirical evidence. Journal of Economic Studies, 10-13. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Melanie-Jones-13/publication/23528725_Disability_and_the_Labour_Market_A_Review_of_the_Empirical_Evidence/links/02e7e51cc076654309000000/Disability-and-the-Labour-Market-A-Review-of-the-Empirical-Evidence.pdf

[3] Ali, M., Schur, L., & Blanck, P. (2011). What types of jobs do people with disabilities want? J Occup Rehabil, 199-210. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.731.6584&rep=rep1&type=pdf

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