We’re all human, we’re all normal, but different. – #100days100stories

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.

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Head and shoulders portrait of Christina, smiling at the camera

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.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.