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First of its kind disability training marks National Inclusion Week

Colleagues at the law firm Irwin Mitchell have taken part in a unique training initiative for National Inclusion Week, aimed at promoting a better understanding of the common challenges faced by co-workers affected by disability.

Colleagues from the 15 regional offices of Irwin Mitchell gathered in London and Sheffield for The Disability Awareness Training, delivered by David Miles from the West of England Centre For Inclusive Living (WECIL).

The first training of its kind in the UK, the CPD accredited course has been developed by Community Interest Company Flamingo Chicks, in partnership with WECIL. The course encourages students to make positive change, by giving them skills to better support colleagues with disabilities, including parents and carers of children with disabilities.

The ultimate aim is to increase confidence when interacting with disabled colleagues and clients and while members of Irwin Mitchell’s internal support group for colleagues, IM Able, are taking the course first, they will become ambassadors and assist colleagues in developing their own disability awareness skills. Credit for the idea is due to Eleri Davies from Irwin Mitchell, who has worked closely with Flamingo Chicks to see this training move from initial concept to classroom.

National Inclusion Week (23-29 September) aims to raise awareness of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This year’s theme is ‘everyday inclusion: celebrate and inspire’, which supports the aims of the IM Able group for 2019 and the plans for Disability Awareness Training.

Irwin Mitchell’s Head of People Development, Amy Scott, who also leads the IM Able group said: “We’re passionate about seeing the ability in disability and want to make sure that colleagues are able to deliver the same first class support to each other, as they provide to our clients. We value colleagues for who they are and what they bring to Irwin Mitchell and want to make sure that everyone has a chance to succeed.

We have worked with Flamingo Chicks for years now and the success of their outreach programmes, together with Eleri’s involvement, made them a natural choice to deliver this pilot scheme that may be offered firmwide in future.”

In January, Irwin Mitchell helped fund the ‘Dad and Me’ report by Flamingo Chicks, with the aim of better understanding issues fathers who are carers face, when juggling responsibilities as parents and employees.

While signing up to the Flamingo Chicks charter on this issue, and embracing flexible working initiatives, it was recognised that the scope of support would need to be wider. Disability awareness training was considered no less important, which led to the development of this latest programme.

Established in 2013, Flamingo Chicks is an inclusive group dedicated to allowing children with disabilities and illnesses the opportunity to enjoy dance classes with friends. In the last five years, the Community Interest Company has seen over 3,000 children come through their doors, with outreach programmes running in eight countries.