Christina has a rare condition which means she faints often. Finding work was a struggle – Christina saw people’s faces change as soon as she mentioned her condition. Scope helped Christina find a job through our Work Choice programme. Now she is a receptionist at a busy hotel and loves every minute of it.
Here, Christina shares her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories project.
I have Vasovagal Syncope. I faint when I get too hot and when I stand on my feet too long. I can sit down for ages but I have to move around. I’m not bothered about talking about my condition. Some people can be rude but I don’t care.
I left school for a hairdressing apprenticeship but I got far too hot in the salon and I passed out a lot. I realised I would never be able to work as a hairdresser because of the safety implications. Before that I was a waitress. When I was waitressing it was difficult because I passed out a few times and broke a few things.
Dealing with people’s prejudices
It’s hard for young people to find a job. There are not many jobs around here anyway. Then, even when I do get an interview, I have to explain my impairment and deal with people’s prejudices. I didn’t say anything on my CV but when I told employers in interviews I could see their faces change. They were gob smacked. I just thought, right, that’s it then, goodbye.
I went into a little shop and started talking to one guy and told him I pass out if I stand too long, so could I have a chair. He said: ‘I can’t employ people like you.’ All I asked for was a chair. He didn’t even give me a chance.
I told the job centre about my condition and they contacted Scope. I was on Scope’s Work Choice programme for about three or four weeks. I got the interview here (at the White House Hotel) and sat down with Paul the hotel owner. Lynne from Scope went through the interview with me beforehand but I did the interview on my own. I was taken on as a permanent member of staff, interview on Saturday, taken on, on a Monday.
Supportive staff make such a difference
I used to be really shy over the phone. Now I’m always on it. I handle complaints on my own and pass them on to Paul if I need to. I‘ve learned how to work a bar, I’ve worked in the kitchen. I’ve found the people really supportive. When I fainted they had someone with me straight away. I got treated all day with cakes and sweets!
I’ve got a lot of responsibility behind the reception. Everyone relies on me. I’m a people person. I’m a good communicator and I have a bubbly personality. I like the responsibility of doing something important.
I’m going to start a hospitality NVQ soon. I’m looking forward to doing that. It will look good on my CV. But I’d like to stay here as long as possible. I enjoy getting up for work. On my days off it kills me. I don’t know what to do with myself!
An opportunity to prove myself
I genuinely don’t think I would have got a job without Scope. All I needed was a window, an opportunity to prove I was more than my condition. I knew the support was there if I needed it. Scope has helped with my confidence. They work with me to understand there’s no problem with me finding a job – I just need to find the right employer.
I would say to future employers that we’re all human, we’re all normal, but different. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and nobody should discriminate.