R334.5 million in funds raised, over more than two decades, bring hope to many beneficiaries
Over the last 25 years, Casual Day has become a mainstay for many organisations and causes that cater for persons with disabilities. One of the initiatives that benefit from the event is the jobseeker workshops that the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) offer to empower and equip trainees with job skills.
The NCPD recently offered a workshop – funded partly by its Casual Day project as well as money received from Samsung – at its premises in Edenvale. The workshop which was held over the month of May was attended by 22 persons with disabilities, with approximately half of the students coming from Johannesburg and the other half from Pretoria.
According to Ernu van der Westhuizen, Senior Manager of Programmes and Governance at the NCPD, the training initiative was started to upskill persons with disabilities to better equip them to find work. The training focuses, by and large, on soft-skills such as compiling a CV, computer training, including the use of mainstream software programmes, budgeting, preparation for job interviews, etc.
Says van der Westhuizen, “Students with disabilities find it difficult to find work and from the employer’s side not enough effort is made to accommodate job seekers with disabilities. We try and alter this imbalance by providing the necessary skills in an effort to create a more inclusive workforce in South Africa. As things stand, we have seen the proof that our May training sessions have been successful, as some of the participants have already found employment”.
Although official unemployment statistics for persons with disabilities are not available, van der Westhuizen says the figure is much higher than South Africa’s overall unemployment rate of 27.6%. “Our experience shows that roughly 60% to 70% of persons with disabilities, which amounts to about 15% of the population, are unemployed.”
According to van der Westhuizen, the training of potential employees is only the first phase of the upskilling process, adding that the NCPD also assists employers with their “inclusive employment initiatives”, with a view to increasing the uptake of persons with disabilities in the workplace.
National director Therina Wentzel-du Toit says the NCPD is already offering the training of jobseekers as well as employers in some of the provinces, but that they will not rest until all provinces are included, among other things, by increasing the frequency of these workshops. “Funding is crucial in assisting us to get more persons with disabilities job-ready,” she explains.
Casual Day, a flagship project for the NCPD, started in 1995, raising R413 000, an amount which has increased steadily to a staggering R31 million last year. In total, R334.5 million has been raised over the last 25 years.
According to Wentzel-du Toit, Casual Day 2019, which will be held on Friday, 6 September, will benefit more than 600 non-profit organisations directly. There are also the national beneficiary organisations such as the South African National Council for the Blind, the South African Federation for Mental Health, the Deaf Federation of South Africa, Autism South Africa, Alzheimer’s SA, The National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy and many more.
The massive Casual Day drive involves 350 supporting schools, 1 600 companies, 590 government departments and thousands of South Africans donating through their buying of the event’s stickers and merchandise.
For more information on Casual Day, including where to get your stickers, t-shirts and other merchandise, please visit www.casualday.co.za. For information on social media, visit Facebook: CasualDaySA; Twitter: @CasualDay SA or Instagram: casualday_sa.
Stickers will become available to the public nationwide by the end of July from the following participating stores: Edgars, Jet, CNA, Game, Dion Wired, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Alpha Pharm and Express Stores.
Casual Day, to be held on 6 September, is this year celebrating 25 years as South Africa’s leading fundraising and awareness campaign for persons with disabilities and is a flagship project for the NCPD. This year’s theme is: ‘Time to shine with persons with disabilities’. Companies, government departments and schools can order their Casual Day stickers and promo items from the casual day website (www.casualday.co.za). Stickers at R10 a piece will become available to the public nationwide by the end of July from participating stores: Edgars, Jet, CNA, Game, Dion Wired, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Alpha Pharm and Express Stores. Follow Casual Day developments on Facebook: CasualDaySA; Twitter: @CasualDay SA; Instagram: casualday_sa.