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Increasing equitable access to livelihoods and employment for people with disabilities in India

Date: 17/04/2019

The Livelihoods Project titled - “Increasing equitable access to livelihoods and employment for people with disabilities in India”
The Livelihoods project funded by European Union has created a positive impact on the livelihoods of persons with disabilities and their family members by uplifting their abilities and enhancing their skills. This project focussed on emerging trends in addressing inequalities through sustainable inclusive economic empowerment initiatives engaging with government and private sector. And, also to increase equitable access to livelihoods and employment by improving accessible environment for persons with disabilities. The project is a partnership driven model wherein it has been able to mobilise local resources and connect with relevant stakeholders to bring about changes among persons with disabilities, employers and the key stakeholders. Though the primary focus of the project is to economically empower persons with disabilities, it has contributed to promoting identity and accessing various social entitlements. The strategies and the approaches complimented and contributed to UN Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 1 – No Poverty, SDG 5 – Gender Equality and SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth. The project is ensuring No one left behind as per SDG 2030 by reaching out unreached men & women with different types and degrees of disabilities.
About Leonard Cheshire
Leonard Cheshire (LC) is a UK organisation which believes that people with disabilities should have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose, with opportunities to live independently, contribute economically and participate fully in society. LC is a pan disability organisation and delivers inclusive community-based programmes delivering sustainable change to people with disabilities in countries across Africa and Asia. The key focus of our programmes includes: Inclusive Education; Access to Livelihoods; Campaigning and Advocacy; and Research. LC’s International Department works through five regional offices in Africa and Asia. The South Asia Regional Office is based in Bengaluru, India.
About the Project
The livelihoods project titled: “Increasing equitable access to livelihoods and employment for people with disabilities in India” is one of the flagship programmes of Leonard Cheshire funded by the Delegation of the European Union to India since 2016 and completing by June 2019. This project is implemented through 5 implementing partners in Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu with two specific objectives – 1. Increased access to improved livelihoods and employment for people with disabilities, and 2. Improved employment environment for people with disabilities.
Through the project, Leonard Cheshire aims to improve access to livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities and secure their livelihoods either in wage employment or in self-employment.  We do this by creating awareness at community level, increasing confidence and skills of people with disabilities through vocational training and skills development,  removing stigma / discrimination,  sensitising and engaging stakeholders,  providing wide range of need based services to persons with disabilities and  utilising local resources effectively.
Leonard Cheshire has adopted its own unique and successful Livelihoods Resource Centre model and replicated this to achieve the overall and specific objectives of the project. Leonard Cheshire has well-structured systems, dedicated team and 5 well equipped Livelihoods Resource Centres at Urban and Semi urban level plus 5 satellite Livelihoods Resource Centres at rural level. These Livelihoods Resource Centres are playing a key role in reaching out target groups, acting as one stop shop for persons with disabilities and community stakeholders in need of these services.
Leonard Cheshire being a pan-disability organisation ensured that all disability types especially Men and Women with Speech & Hearing Impairment, Visual Impairment, Locomotive Disability, Deaf Blind, Intellectual Disability and Multiple Disabilities of mild, moderate and severe level have been covered and benefitted under the Project.
To provide need based services to the identified primary direct and secondary direct target groups, potential local resources were identified and these resources were effectively utilized, worked with concern state and central government departments to facilitate persons with disabilities to avail various welfare schemes and social entitlements, associated with public and private institutions for skilling and up-skilling in various trade specific employable and entrepreneurship skills, sensitised employers and job providers on inclusion, disability equality, adoptability,  accessibility and friendly work environment creation,  established linkages with like-minded non-profit organisations and associations of persons with disabilities to influence policy makers through positive advocacy and engaged volunteers from different voluntary organisations, corporates, colleges and also, individuals for smooth and cost effective implementation of various project activities and events at all project locations.
As the tangible outcomes of the project to increase confidence, competitiveness and employability of persons with disabilities, over 8000 persons with disabilities from rural, semi urban and urban areas of the project locations in India have received psycho social / career counselling, over 7000 persons with disabilities have acquired relevant  soft skills, life skills, employable skills and business development skills, over 2648 large/medium/small scale employers were sensitised on disability equality, over 5000 persons with disabilities have secured their livelihoods either in wage employment or self-employment, over 2500 persons with disabilities received assistive devices / technologies and approximately 48,289 people were reached through 132 advocacy campaigns conducted based on local themes.