Some of our programmes are part funded by the following:



School pupils aged 16-25


The Transitions Programme is a job coaching programme for those aged between 16 and 25.

The primary focus of this programme is to better prepare young people with a Learning Disability/Difficulty, Disadvantage, Autism or Asperger's to transition from school into adulthood, progress to the world of work and be active citizens in their communities.

We have 3 strands to the Transitions Programme
• Practical hands on work experience
• Preparation for world of work
• Fun packed weekly social club

The Transitions Programme has been a huge success for participants & we're proud to be able to offer such an important step into the workplace.

You can find out more about the social club at the bottom of this page and check the News section to be kept up to date with when it's on.


Hands on Training

Unemployed aged 16 - 60


This project is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy

If you’re aged 16-60 and have a learning disability/difficulty, are finding it difficult to get into work or training, or would simply like to boost your work experience/qualifications this programme could help.

Trainees on the HOT Programme will have access to work experience opportunities across our live businesses, such as:

• Production
• On-line Retail
• Packaging
• Catering
• Horticulture

We also aim to provide work tours and work placements externally so trainees can develop their experience further and sample the world of work outside of AEL. Trainees can also gain OCN qualifications at Level 1 & Level 2. The programme will support our trainees to progress into paid employment/long term volunteering or into further education/training

If you would like to find out more please contact Joanna:


If you would like to find out more please contact Rebecca or Rachel:



Day Opportunities

Aged 18+ referred through NHSCT


If you have been diagnosed with a learning disability and have been approved for receipt of community based day services through the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, then you can ask about coming along to AEL to volunteer 1-3 days per week.

This will help you to gain work experience and boost your skills and confidence. It may also help you to think about possible work or volunteering places. Day Opportunities is a great foundation for building your experience and improving your confidence. 

You can speak to your social worker for more information, or contact us using the links below.



Promoting a LIFE of Independence, Fulfilment & Experiences


The LIFE Programme, offers bespoke support which ensures trainees have choices in how they spend their day, who they spend it with and the types of activities offered. We aim to share what’s important to them, by developing a person centered support and action plan that will, set realistic goals and encourage the development of each trainee.

LIFE will promote their physical, mental and social health and enhance quality of life through: Completion of tasks associated with daily living Socialisation / Recreation Education Team work. Attendance is a minimum of 1 day & a maximum of 5 days per week. We would recommend a minimum of 2 days attendance per week, for services to be effective, however this can be discussed on a case by case basis. Successful LIFE Programme trainees often go on to find employment or other skill building opportunities.

Places can be paid for through Self Directed Support (Direct Payments/Managed Budget etc. These are local Health & Social Care Trust payments, for people who are assessed as needing help from social services) or by Personal Agreement. Places on the LIFE Programme can purchased at a cost of £55.00 per day.

If you would like to find out more please contact Lorraine:


If you would like to find out more please contact Lorraine:




Employer Support


Time & Resource Saving: Through our live business activities we carry out a variety of practical work tasks for companies, which ultimately free up their time & resources. These tasks range from re-labelling of products, collating handouts to be used in information packs at conferences/events, recycling information packs for homes, fulfilling orders & wholesale, pre- packing goods for own brands, colour cards for plastics, manufacturing of samples to site clearance etc.

Learning Disability Awareness Training for Staff / Volunteers: Short workshops, delivered in house or in our premises, to provide an overview of what learning disability & learning difficulty is, its’ prevalence in NI and examples of how you can support someone in your workplace/home life who may have a learning disability/difficulty.

Hands on support and advice from our staff for trainees attending work placements. If you are thinking about taking a trainee who may have support needs, on a work placement, we can provide advice and practical hints and tips on how to make it a meaningful experience for the trainee & how the company can still work towards its’ business objectives.

If you would like to find out more please contact Lorraine:



Inclusive Employer Awards


In recent years AEL have worked in partnership with over 20 local employers, who have provided opportunities for work tours, work placements, long term volunteering and paid employment to our trainees. In September 2019 we launched our Inclusive Employer Charter, to recognise their contribution and to help develop new relationships with other employers who would like to get involved.

Inclusive Employer Partners receive a Bronze, Silver and Gold rated certificate detailing their award, access to inclusive partner logo files, which they can use on their letterhead, website, social media etc. Also opportunities to advertise through our business as well as training and support for the duration of the membership

As well as supporting inclusion, evidence shows that providing work opportunities for people with additional needs can improve profitability, and competitive advantage. People with additional needs take less sick leave, stay in jobs longer than other workers and help improve the reputation of the business. (Lindsay, S, Cagliostro, E, Albarico, M et al (2018) A systematic review of the benefits of hiring people with a disability. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 28:634)

This Charter brings together our knowledge and experience which has been developed over 20 years of supporting adults and young people with additional needs in a successful live business setting.

Social Club

AEL Social Club runs on a weekly basis for anyone with a Learning Disability, Difficulty, Autism or Aspergers aged 15+. We have a wide range of activities on offer such as pool, darts, gaming, beauty, cooking, arts and crafts. Throughout the year we are involved in numerous fun events and like to celebrate special occasions! This is a setting to come have fun and meet friends along the way.