Jobseeking with a disability

Zoe talking about Workability

Zoe talking about Workability

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A short film, launched last week in Horsham, aims to challenge some of common misconceptions about people with disabilities.

‘Back Into Work’ features four people who have been helped back into the job market by the Workability scheme.

Maxine Thomas of the charity Impact Initiatives, which runs Workability, spoke to the County Times just before the film’s launch.

“There’s so many misconceptions about people with disabilities not wanting to work, shirking work,” she said. “These guys today will prove that that’s not the case at all.”

Apart from problems with negative stereotypes, people with disabilities can run into practical difficulties, which Workability can help them with.

Vicky, one of the four service users in the film, used to have a job as an account manager in radio advertising.

She was seriously hurt in a car crash in 2004 and was left with a brain injury, from which she is still recovering.

Getting back into employment proved to be a difficult task, with many forms to fill in and obstacles to overcome. Vicky said the support she got through the Workability scheme was invaluable.

Vicky told the County Times that she finds some things much harder to do, because her memory is affected and multi-tasking has become much more difficult for her.

“As much as you want to accept that, it’s very hard to do,” she said. “Only in the last two months have I truly accepted what my limitations are.”

Her speech has also been affected by the injury, which can cause problems.

People who didn’t know Vicky would sometimes assume that she was drunk or would think that, because she spoke slowly, she must not be intelligent.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “You want to work so badly, but you’re not treated equally.

“I’m still just as intelligent. I want to do it, and people need to give me the chance.”

Also on the video is Colin, whose career as a high-flying sales rep was cut short by MS.

He describes working three mornings a week in an office, treating the filing as a form of physiotherapy.

Zoe has a range of disabilities linked to encephalitis and cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair to get around.

On the film, she comments: “It’s quite isolating when you’re disabled, because people don’t understand you.”

She was able to find work as a swimming instructor, teaching children with disabilities.

Shaun, communicating via sign language, describes being out of work for four years, before finding a job at Auntie Val’s in Pulborough.

Visit www.impact-initiatives.org.uk/our_services/workability.php to see the film.