Cope Foundation’s Ability@Work Programme at MTU

24 November, 2023

Ability@Work, Cope Foundation, is a specialist supported employment service linking employers with jobseekers who have intellectual disabilities and/or autism here in Cork. The main focus of Ability@Work is to find meaningful paid employment for people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. This programme aspires to get participants closer to the labour market by providing training and employment for them with the supports of a job coach.  Over the last five years over 130 paid job opportunities were created. Although Ability@Work has had many successes to date, it can be challenging to find employers who have a positive opinion towards inclusive recruitment.

Through its long-established partnership, MTU Events and Hospitality, in March 2022, warmly welcomed two Ability@Work participants Timmy Begley and Louise McCarthy to their workforce. Subsequently, Katlynn Barnes was employed.  Timmy works in the main canteen while Katlynn and Louise work in the Bistro. 

Timmy speaks proudly about the importance of his paid job, and the sense of daily purpose it gives him. Timmy has recently started a third day of work in MTU and describes the “buzz” and upbeat atmosphere as his favorite thing when working in MTU. Timmy enjoys the social interactions with both staff and students when carrying out his duties in the main canteen. 

Furthermore, Katlynn explains the benefits of earning her own money and being financially independent. Katlynn likes to regularly go on trips with her friends and enjoys spending her well-earned money on these excursions. MTU is Katlynn’s first paid job, and she explains that she is still learning something new when dealing with customers. 

Additionally, Louise talks about the treasured work relationships she has made with her colleagues and the amazing support she continues to receive from them. Louise particularly likes the structure and routine of working the same days and hours each week as she travels from a rural area of Cork. 

Most importantly, all three participants share the agreement that supported employment has given them a greater sense of identity and belonging and has allowed each of them to gain confidence in themselves. MTU is offering meaningful paid employment, where everyone is treated the same and are part of the college workforce. Thanks to MTU, Timmy, Louise and Katlynn are now valued staff members. Ability@Work would hope that MTU’s positive engagement with the programme would encourage other Cork companies to provide employment opportunities for similar individuals like Timmy, Louise and Katlynn.  




Ability@Work is based in 54 Penrose Wharf, Cork City. This programme is funded by the Dormant Accounts and the Irish Government.  If you are interested in learning more about our programme, please contact Marian Hennessy, Co- ordinator, at or 021-4552557, or follow us on LinkedIn:

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