Friday, 19 January 2018

(Un)Employable Me

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Over Christmas, I was watching a fantastic programme called 'Unemployable Me'. Every single episode was both heart warming and had me in floods of tears because it resonated with me so much. Disabled people are pushed out of society in general, with barriers constantly being built, then we get the blame for 'sitting on benefits' alongside a mountain of other claims.

What do we need? Support. We, as an 'ill' community can see it and quite frankly can't see why people aren't giving it to us. We need opportunities. And someone to actually believe in us.

I know it's difficult to get a job in general at the moment, but trying to become employed with a disability is about a hundred times harder. Firstly, you need to look for companies who will offer things like remote working, flexibility and small contracts (like a few hours a week). The area you can travel is drastically limited and the type of work you're able to do is also confined. 

Employers, and I am generalising (thank you to the good'uns!), find people like myself 'a bit of a headache'. Being disabled isn't just about putting a ramp out for a wheelchair. Illnesses are a lot more complex and it was shown in the programme that even saying you're disabled on a CV drastically reduces any job chances. How is that even possible.

Do you know what? It's sad. Because companies are missing out on passionate, intelligent people. Many people have gained higher qualifications and can't find work, but would be suited, and would be an asset in a job. 

My friends who are chronically ill who managed to get jobs, had to work so hard to make themselves known to get them. I'm not just talking about handing out CV's. Blogging, volunteering, running charities and then sending out emails even when jobs weren't advertised to see if anything suitable was available. Some people have a perception that all disabled people sit on their bums all day, but I've seen first hand how hard a lot of people work, and it's quite the opposite.

One friend, Pippa, actually just wrote a fantastic blog on this issue the other day here. And want to see a company which is doing it right? Check out Bear Hugs here who have just employed their first chronically ill remote worker.

Moving on, I wanted to write 5 reasons why you should employ a chronically ill/disabled person in your workplace. And not just to meet the equality act.

  1. We are truly passionate about working and making a contribution to society. 
  2. We are less likely to have sick days off (if the contract is suited to needs). All my friends who work, work incredibly hard even when they are feeling unwell. They battle through symptoms and have back up plans for if they really can't continue for the day ie work from home later on. 100% commitment.
  3. We will be an asset to any team. (As long as you give us the correct adaptations)
  4. We are as capable as anyone else. We have all learnt to adapt to our condition, know our strength/weaknesses and therefore can approach situations from a different angle if needed
  5. We have had extra life experiences which can be useful in a job. From volunteering, to generally dealing with illness (brilliant for HR!) we have all gained skills. 
I'm not saying put everyone in a job, some people are far too poorly to work but the issue here is the opportunities available. On 'Unemployable Me', all the participants were capable of doing at least part-time work but no-one would take them on and they were all fantastic people. People like myself, who are far too ill to hold down a proper job but would like in the future to work a few hours a week, just would like to see more disabled people excelling and suitable contracts becoming available.

Here's to hoping some more companies will jump on board and a massive thank you to those who support us as a community already.

Kate x



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