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Applications, adjustments, and employment: how Kickstart helped me
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!