EUR 1.3m EU grant will challenge the stigma and injustice faced by leprosy-affected and disabled people in India

‘I have the skills but no one will employ me’, ‘I got a job but was treated so badly I had to leave’, these are common concerns voiced by leprosy-affected and disabled people living in India.

A new European Union (EU) funded scheme will tackle such stigma and injustice by helping those affected increase their knowledge of their rights and find practical ways to claim them, as well as providing vocational training and access to employment or business start-ups.

The £1.3m (1.8m EUR) scheme is 75% (1,331,305 EUR) funded by the European Union and 25% (443,769 EUR) must be raised from other sources by The Leprosy Mission England & Wales (TLMEW).

It will result in 3,000 men and women being trained to find jobs as computer operators, electricians, tailors, diesel mechanics and other trades, or to start their own businesses.

Research into discrimination and stigma and practical ways of tackling them will be part of the scheme that will be delivered by The Leprosy Mission Trust India and the charity Brighter Futures Development Trust, supported by British academic researchers.

The three-year project is known as CSOs (local organisations) for Resource mobilisation , Empowerment, Advocacy, Training & Employment (CREATE) and starts in January 2016.

Gareth Shrubsole, Programmes & Advocacy Officer, TLMEW (CREATE Project co-ordinator) said:
“The European Union funding will enable us and other local partners to deliver real and lasting change for people living with leprosy and disability in India.  

"This combination of rights awareness, vocational skills training and working with local governments and employers to help them become more inclusive, will help thousands of people affected by leprosy and disability to challenge injustice and build a better future for themselves and their children.”

Leprosy Mission staff will work with 45 small, community-based organisations representing people affected by leprosy and disability in four Indian states - Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu. 

They will then collaborate with a further 200 mainstream CSOs on joint campaigns to address various forms of injustice, reaching 900 local government bodies and 200 local employers in 18 districts to raise awareness about diversity, human rights and adopting fair employment practices.

The contents of this story are the sole responsibility of TLMEW and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Photo: Ruth Towell/The Leprosy Mission