European Social Fund (ESF) case study - EQUAL Programme

EQUAL (Empower, Qualify, Upskill and Learn) is a project organised by Limavady Community Development Initiative aimed at adults with a disability who are: not in education, employment or training; economically inactive or unemployed. The project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund 2014 - 2020 and the Department for the Economy.

Shane Butcher’s story

Shane, 33, lives in the rural community of Magilligan. He went to school at Rossmar Special School in Limavady, after which he started attending Benbradagh Day Centre. Although he loved being part of the gardening project he also wanted to experience new things.

Shane Butcher, EQUAL Programme participant
Shane Butcher, EQUAL Programme participant

When Shane first started attending the EQUAL Programme he was extremely shy and anxious and was easily overwhelmed and prone to panic attacks but he was willing, with the correct level of one-to-one developmental support, to be open to new experiences.

When he started the programme he said he wanted to be a mechanic like his uncles, but as the induction week progressed and he got to try different experiences, he decided that he wanted to do the childcare course.

Build on strengths

Shane’s work placement saw him based in the Limavady Family Centre where he worked on a range of family focused developmental programmes. The staff there supported Shane to identify and build on his strengths and to manage the challenges he faced.

The developmental support provided saw Shane’s skills, knowledge and confidence grow. His mum said of the change:

"I can’t believe the difference in him - he loves being part of an all ability group where his talents and skills are recognised and celebrated. The experience has opened up a world of possibilities for him; it has given him expectations and hope for his future. We always knew he was brilliant but now he believes it as well."

Shane is now a childcare assistant at Magilligan Playgroup where the skills he developed mean that he is an invaluable member of the team. Leader Julie said of Shane:

"He is a great fit, he adds something different, a positive male role model for the children, something which is hard to secure in the voluntary childcare sector."

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