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Applications, adjustments, and employment: how Kickstart helped me

Lasian_ScopeLasian_Scope Posts: 613Member, Administrator Scope community team
edited March 13 in Guest blogs

My name is Lasiân and I'm one of the Online Community Interns here at Scope. For our work and employment theme, I wanted to talk about how Kickstart has helped me. Kickstart is an employment service run by Scope which provides personalised support for disabled people to find, apply for and keep a job. 

Like most of my family, I had been set on becoming a nurse. I was excited when I got into my preferred University (despite fainting in the middle of an exam and struggling to stay awake for coursework) until I realised I didn’t feel able to complete the training or have a career in nursing with my health conditions - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS) and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).

While trying to make new plans after improving from a bad year of barely being able to function out of bed, I found I couldn’t think of anything that I would be both content and physically able to do. I started applying for any job that seemed suitable but still didn’t have much luck. When I disclosed my health conditions on applications, I encountered mostly silence back from employers. If I hadn’t disclosed them and then had an interview where I had to discuss adjustments, I was told at the end that it went “really well” yet I wouldn’t hear anything back regarding the role. I had once been in a job for a couple of weeks when they told me to go home early to rest and that they would call me when they needed me - they never contacted me again.


Frustratingly, when I had a job it impacted my conditions so much that I felt horrible at work and didn’t feel well enough to do anything outside of it. It felt like my life had gotten stuck.

I was almost convinced I wasn’t suited to work when I finally found Kickstart on the internet. One of my first tasks after starting the service was to create an action plan with my advisor @Mel_at_scope for what I wanted to achieve and how I could get there – I had proof with each completed task that I was moving forward.

For careers or jobs that I was interested in but wasn’t sure if they were suitable, my advisor helped me to research what they involved and routes into them. We also made a core list of what I wanted, roles to include or avoid – love helping people, avoid selling products - and I often get emails from my advisor with job advertisements that she thinks would suit me (which is how I found out about this role with the community!). Listing my skills in applications had always been difficult, so it felt amazing to go through what skills I have and hearing that my experience as a disabled person has helped me develop some that I otherwise might not have.

Before starting with Kickstart I hardly had any knowledge of what help I could access, so thought that employers would find any adjustments I required unjustifiable or that I was just incompatible. My advisor talked me through my entitlements and helped me to think of reasonable adjustments that would make jobs suitable for me. I became more comfortable stating what I needed and being assertive if they weren’t met. However, my role at Scope and how readily adjustments have been made might put me out of practice in this department!


I was never guilted or asked for justification if I needed a cab reimbursed to help me get to our meeting place, I was offered skype or telephone calls when I couldn’t travel at all, and there was no frustration when I had to cancel because I felt too unwell. Because of this, I’ve made it to meetings that I would have otherwise missed. My advisor is so understanding, and our meetings are always enjoyable while also being constructive (even when we’re laughing too much.)

I still struggle with feeling that I should be superhuman in all other ways to “compensate” for my health, and then dealing with the disappointment when I fail to develop the ability to fly or do everything without help, but Kickstart has helped to build my confidence and develop my skills for the future. Even more, the service and Scope itself have made it clear that I don’t need to make up for just being me.

What have you experienced when applying and interviewing for jobs? Do you have tips or advice about looking for employment? It would be great to hear from you!

Replies

  • Mel_At_ScopeMel_At_Scope Posts: 6Member Listener
    edited March 1
    @Lasian_Scope, I am so glad to hear you have found our support so beneficial.

    Thank you so much for your kind words, *blushes* I have thoroughly enjoyed all of our meetings and I am so happy to see you flourishing in this new role :smiley: You have worked so hard and deserve it!

    Catch up with you soon! 

    Mel  :) :)
  • Lasian_ScopeLasian_Scope Posts: 613Member, Administrator Scope community team
    edited March 1
    Thank you @Mel_At_Scope, I really appreciate all the support you've given me!
  • daz1daz1 Posts: 10Member Talkative

    Hi, I applied for roughly 100 jobs when I moved from Plymouth to Bristol. The one time I didn't tick the box declaring my disability I got the job. That was under the old Two Ticks system. I'd be interested to know what Scope think of the new Disability Confident scheme which has replaced Two Ticks.


  • Jean_ScopeJean_Scope Posts: 307Member, Helpline, Community advisor Chatterbox

    Hi @Lasian_Scope

    Really interesting to read your story.

    Just a thought.... as you had originally set your heart on nursing but found it not suited to your physical needs, I wondered if you had considered the possibility of training as an Occupational Therapist? ......there is a big overlap of knowledge between the two professional but as an OT there are a lot of emerging roles and opportunities for private practice and part-time work, so it need not be as physically demanding as being a nurse on a busy ward.

    When I did my OT training I found the University to be supportive with my need to do placements that weren't too fatiguing for me. I studied part-time and still qualified in three years. I know a lot of other disabled OT's and the general consensus is that our lived experience of disability is beneficial and valued pre and post qualification.

    Best Wishes

    Jean  

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    Information Specialist - Enabling Environments

    Scope

  • GuyatScopeGuyatScope Posts: 9Member, Community advisor Whisperer
    daz1 said:

    Hi, I applied for roughly 100 jobs when I moved from Plymouth to Bristol. The one time I didn't tick the box declaring my disability I got the job. That was under the old Two Ticks system. I'd be interested to know what Scope think of the new Disability Confident scheme which has replaced Two Ticks.


    Hi Daz

    Thanks for your question. At Scope, we’ve been calling for Government to make improvements to the Disability Confident scheme.

     

    We want to see:

     

    • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) conduct a full evaluation of the Disability Confident Campaign, including an assessment of its reach and the take-up of the scheme among Small and Medium Enterprises.
    • The DWP set out its long-term vision for Disability Confident. This should include a focus on the scheme’s success in supporting disabled people to enter, stay and progress in work.
    • The DWP ensure the Disability Confident Business Leaders Group has the resource and capability to deliver a wide-ranging programme of work, including coordinating new research and driving best practice among employers. This should be carried out in coordination with other initiatives by the DWP to support employers to recruit and retain disabled people.

     

    Also  we've been calling on Government to strengthen the requirements for Employers reaching the top tier to include publishing data on recruitment, retention, progression and engagement among disabled staff.

    We would also like to see an independent evaluation of Disability Confident to assess if and how it has contributed towards improvements in recruitment and retention of disabled people among employers who have signed up”  

     

    Guy
    Employment Team Manager
    Scope's Support To Work
  • BarbiesnemesisBarbiesnemesis Posts: 86Member Chatterbox
    @Jean_Scope I was studying occupational therapy at an East Sussex university and they were awful! I had to give it up at the end of my first year - it broke my heart. I'm very lost now occupation-wise and don't know whether I'll ever work again or what I want or could do. I think if I was looking for OT training now I would research the university fully on their approach to disabled students before taking up a place.
     
  • Jean_ScopeJean_Scope Posts: 307Member, Helpline, Community advisor Chatterbox

    Hi @Barbiesnemesis

    So sorry to hear that the university didn't give you the support that you needed to be able to continue with the course. I studied at UoN and they seemed pretty switched on about reasonable adjustments. If you decide to return to OT you might find this FB group of interest 

    www.facebook.com/groups/DisabilOT/


    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    Information Specialist - Enabling Environments

    Scope

  • BarbiesnemesisBarbiesnemesis Posts: 86Member Chatterbox
    @Jean_Scope ; Thank you for your reply but I think I'm too old to go back to it now as I'm 54 years old. I started the course in 2013 at 49 and I believe the upper age limit is 51. I will have a look at the facebook group though as I haven't lost my interest in OT - I think its a brilliant profession with a great ethos.
  • Jean_ScopeJean_Scope Posts: 307Member, Helpline, Community advisor Chatterbox
    @Barbiesnemesis - I graduated aged 49 year of age and there were others considerably older than me on the course. I think some universities are more welcoming than others and things have changed now that NHS bursaries no longer exist, universities are much more flexible about who they will consider. ...so maybe it isn't too late to follow your dreams..... 

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    Information Specialist - Enabling Environments

    Scope

  • ChelseagirlChelseagirl Posts: 14Member Listener
    I was studying Culinary Arts @ UWL and their 'Well Being' dept was awful no communication, no communication after enrolment about 'signposting' to where to get support, then not signposting to the outside contractors for 'Learnings Support' and them always saying they couldn't find a person to support or diaries were ALWAYS full!!
  • bekirkbekirk Posts: 6Member Listener
    I always got rejections if I stated my disability, which varies due to my state of mind.  
  • ChelseagirlChelseagirl Posts: 14Member Listener
    I have had a nightmare being forced to sign on JSA while appealing ESA medical on tribunal + was in job centre today 2hours 50munutes!!!!!
    TOLD to come back tomorrow as well, so including interview last Thursday that 6 Taxi fares I've had to find when no esa or JSA!!!! They're NOT listening to ANY medical issues + already telling me I got to apply or go interview ONCE week!!!!  I'm
  • ChelseagirlChelseagirl Posts: 14Member Listener
  • SandycfedupSandycfedup Posts: 15Member Whisperer
    Unbelievable . Feel for you... 
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