Inclusion award for Belfast as the 2022 Harkin Summit delivers a lasting legacy for the city

Belfast wins top ABPCO award for Harkin Summit Belfast at leading event industry awards

Belfast’s efforts to become an accessible and inclusive city for all have been recognised after Visit Belfast, ICC Belfast and professional conference organiser Event-ful were awarded ‘Best Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at a Conference’ for the Harkin Belfast 2022 summit at the ABPCO Excellence Awards 2022.

The annual ABPCO awards recognise and celebrate industry best practice in association and not for profit conferences and events.

Beating tough competition from NASUWT for the Black Teachers’ Consultation Conference and the RenewableUK for Global Offshore Wind 2022, the award recognises a team that has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion throughout event planning. Judges assessed the reasoning and decision-making process for introducing new pioneering practices and the positive impact the changes and new practices had on stakeholders and beyond.

In partnership with The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement and the Department for Communities as lead sponsor, Belfast encouraged delegates to positively reframe the narrative on approaching, supporting and enabling persons with disabilities to achieve their career goals and aspirations.

The 2022 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit welcomed over 500 delegates and promoted positive social impact and left a lasting legacy across the city. To ensure a successful event, Belfast underwent leading transformational change before, during and post Summit to ensure it is an accessible, diverse and inclusive host destination.

These changes included:

  • JAM Card training which allows customers to communicate their accessibility needs discreetly, highlighting that they may need a little extra time and patience during their visit
  • A permanent Changing Place installed by SYNC Living in the Riverside Foyer area of ICC Belfast
  • Training in inclusion for over 260 hospitality and tourism professionals in Belfast provided by Visit Belfast and NOW group
  • Development of a Social Narrative Access Video to support delegates in navigating their surroundings at ICC Belfast
  • Under the Northern Ireland Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey’s direction, the Harkin Belfast legacy initiatives also included 300 ring-fenced employment opportunities for young disabled people, 100 mentoring sessions delivered during the Summit, an eight-week Entrepreneurship Course for young people with disabilities in collaboration with the British Council and a Dragons’ Den for disability led enterprises sponsored by Ulster Bank