The country's first purpose-built remote working hub for people with disabilities has opened in Cork.
The Impact Hub @ Crann is located at the Crann Centre in Ballincollig.
The Crann Centre is a registered charity. It provides lifelong support for people living with neuro-physical disabilities and for their families.
The new hub is a 17-desk facility with high-speed broadband, a fully accessible working environment and free parking, set on a three-acre site. It includes a leisure space, fitness area and an inclusive playground.
It will enable people living with disabilities, such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy, to better participate in the world of work, enjoy the benefits of inclusive co-working and create business and employment opportunities.
It was developed in partnership with the Ballincollig Business Association and the Rubicon Centre at Munster Technological University and sponsored by AIB, Cork City Council and The Open Doors Initiative, an organisation which creates pathways to education and employment for marginalised people.
The Impact Hub @ Crann was officially opened this morning by Sarah Dullea.
Ms Dullea, who is a wheelchair user, operates her beauty therapy business from the hub. She also acted as master of ceremonies for the event.
She spoke of how, in 2019, she was struggling to find an accessible location for her beauty therapy business, when the Crann Centre gave her the opportunity to locate in its facility.
Ms Dullea spoke of the impact this had on her and how she was excited to see other people with a disability now having an opportunity to work and collaborate in the Impact Hub @ Crann.
Businesses located within the Impact Hub will benefit from support and mentoring from Cork City and County Local Enterprise Offices and from the Rubicon Centre at Munster Technological University.
Speaking at today's ceremony, Chair and Founder of the Crann Centre Kate Jarvey said: "At a time when just 36.5% of people aged 15 to 64 with a disability are at work, compared to 72.8% of people without a disability, it is important that we all take proactive steps to bring about change.
"We have developed our Impact Hub with the aim of ensuring that people with disabilities in this region have the opportunity to participate in the new world of work which is about co-working, collaboration and remote working."
Chief Executive of the Open Doors Initiative Jeanne McDonagh said: "As a business NGO, whose members have an ethos of inclusivity and diversity, we are delighted to assist in this work and offer opportunities to people with disabilities to fully partake in the workforce. The Impact Hub creates an equitable space for everyone in employment and we look forward to its success."