A whole IKEA department run by persons with disabilities

Solution
Cooperation with IKEA
Organization
alsterarbeit
Country of Implementation
Germany
Region
Europe
Subregion
Western Europe
Start Year
2014
First published
31.01.2017

alsterarbeit is a social enterprise providing jobs for people with disabilities such as gardening, carpentry, packaging, IT, and gastronomy. In June 2014, the organization entered an agreement with IKEA to run the recovery department of IKEA at the Altona store in Hamburg, creating 30 jobs for people with disabilities.

Solution details

People

Thorsten GRAF
“I put furniture together. I do that totally independently. Every step has a pictogram that helps me to understand the required steps in an easy manner. Should I have questions, there is always someone present I can ask.” Ms. Jana Bigger, a hearing-impaired worker in the IKEA recovery department

Alsterarbeit is a non-profit social enterprise operating in Hamburg that provides various forms of employment for people with disabilities. Through its contacts with a variety of employers, alsterarbeit offers such job opportunities as gardening, carpentry, packaging, IT, and gastronomy, among others. In June 2014, the organization entered an agreement with IKEA, the global furniture chain, to run the recovery department of IKEA, providing 30 jobs for people with disabilities in its Hamburg Altona store.

Problems Targeted

Even in large, developed cities such as Hamburg, employment opportunities outside of sheltered workshops remain hard to find for persons with disabilities. Such people need a certificate stating that they cannot perform a job without proper support; and once they have obtained the necessary permits, organizations such as alsterarbeit can provide them with employment opportunities.

Solution, Innovation and Impact

Alsterarbeit supports people both with and without disabilities to find employment, and cooperates with various companies to supply an inclusive workforce for production sites, offices, and stores in the Hamburg area. Several tasks are specifically designated for people with disabilities, such as the sale of articles that are slightly damaged and therefore discounted, the sale of articles that are to be discontinued, etc. Notably, the recovery department in this particular IKEA store has at times higher revenues than other comparable IKEA stores. 
Alsterarbeit and IKEA have prepared fellow employees for their new colleagues and have offered courses in sign language, communication, and leadership to ease and enable inclusion. Employees with disabilities participate in courses about business processing, attend trainings, learn about client contact, and enjoy the same career possibilities as their non-disabled peers. The Hamburg team consists of 30 persons of disabilities supported by a team of eight people without disabilities. Ten 
 persons with disabilities receive professional training, and 20 are full-time employees. Employees with disabilities can choose how many hours per week they wish to work.

Funding, Outlook and Transferability

The cooperation is financed by grants from the German social welfare system, compensating mainly the costs of professional rehabilitation of people with disabilities. IKEA pays a fee to alsterarbeit to cover their administration expenses.

Media

Life Story

THE STORY OF JANA BIGGER, MITARBEITERIN IM RECOVERY TEAM VON IKEA IN HAMBURG

„Ich montiere Möbel, völlig selbständig.“

Jana Bigger ist eine gehörlose Beschäftigte im Recovery-Team. Sie erzählt von den Anfängen: „Für alle war es eine spannende und neue Situation, der offen begegnet wurde. Denn schließlich war die Situation für alle neu.“ Für Jana Bigger war das alles kein Problem. Sie hat vorher in der Werkstatt gearbeitet und Lust, sich einer neuen Herausforderung zu stellen. Schon in der Praktikumszeit merkte sie, wie viel Spaß ihr die Arbeit macht. „Ich montiere Möbel. Das mache ich vollkommen selbständig. Das Gute ist, das alles bebildert ist und ich so die Arbeitsvorgänge unkompliziert kennenlernen kann. Sollte es doch noch eine Frage geben, weil vielleicht eine Zeichnung spiegelverkehrt ist, dann ist immer ein Ansprechpartner da. Egal ob es direkt von Ikea oder von alsterarbeit jemand ist.“ Jana Bigger fühlt sich wohl. Nach einiger Zeit hat sie auch andere Tätigkeiten übernommen und betont: „Selbständigkeit ist mir wichtig und das wird mir hier geboten. Ich fahre ja auch alleine mit den Öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln zur Arbeit, dabei wohne ich außerhalb Hamburgs! Hier bei Ikea bin ich voll akzeptiert. Ich gehöre dazu.“ Einen Wunsch hat Frau Bigger, sie würde sich über mehr gehörlose Kollegen freuen. Ein zweites gehörloses Teammitglied gibt es schon, nun kann Jana in ihrer Muttersprache kommunizieren.

Related information

Connections
2

Solutions with the same:

Country of Implementation

Germany

Region of Implementation

Europe