In South Africa there are at least 2,5 million people with disabilities who have an impairment leading to difficulties with daily living. People with intellectual disabilities form a significant part of this group, and have traditionally faced a number of different barriers that prevent them from enjoying a decent lifestyle and gaining access to the same choices and opportunities as non-disabled people. The Living Link has successfully challenged these barriers by advocating for and working towards economic participation, inclusion and social justice for people with intellectual impairments enabling them to participate in mainstream society.
The Living Link is a non-profit organisation that supports the inclusion of people with intellectual impairments into society and facilitates their transition from school to work to independent living.
The organisation was founded in 2000 by Julia and Ingrid, sister and mother to Nadine who has an intellectual impairment. In a society that provided limited services and support for such adults, it was through dedication and perseverance that they themselves taught Nadine essential living and social skills. Their input has contributed to Nadine’s phenomenal level of independence and intellectual growth. Nadine now works and lives independently and is proud to be an actively integrated member of the community.
They were inspired to share their knowledge and allow other such adults to become more valuable members of society...and so The Living Link Centre was established to provide these very special people with the opportunity that they deserve.
Students at The Living Link complete an Adult Integration Program – aimed at integrating them into society, both in the workplace and in the community. The program is life-skills based and focuses on practical components of daily living that are essential.
After students have graduated from the program, The Living Link, when possible, assists to place their members into suitable positions in the open labour market and supports both the member and the employer in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Based on the idea of full inclusion, The Living Link also encourages and facilitates the transition of their members into supported independent living. With structured intervention members move out of home and into the community where they are assisted with managing their own lives and households
Founders of The Living Link Julia Wilkinson and Ingrid Menzel, with Nadine Wilkinson, who was the inspiration for the organisation: