“I want to have a job, get paid, go out, enjoy myself”

Nusrat is 27 years old and recently started a job as a Lab Aide at the Sainsbury’s Wellcome Centre, with help from Scope’s Future Ambitions employment service.

For Learning Disability Work Experience Week, Nusrat shares her journey in to work and her goals for the future.

When I was at school I was thinking –  I want to get paid, I want to earn my own money and that’s what I want to do for my future. I went to college, then when I finished college I went to Project Search which finished in July. Project Search gave me training to help me get a job. I also did First Impressions, First Experiences with Scope. I liked it. I made loads of friends there. We did mock interviews, learning more skills, that kind of thing. That has helped me.

Work experience helped me get a job

I was going to Newham’s employment service and a Workplace advisor told me and my mum about work experience through Project Search. I thought it sounded good, that’s why I wanted to do it.

The work experience was good. I liked working with my tutor and job coach from Project Search. I liked working in the kitchen, giving patients tea and coffee in the morning. I liked working in the canteen, emptying the bins and cleaning the tables. I learned new skills. I learned to give food to customers and how to make tea. I learned to use the till. I did that with a colleague. I worked as a host. I was learning to be a housekeeper. I didn’t like that, it made me feel sick. I was also in an office, typing, answering phones. I enjoyed it. I liked it. We finished at the end of July and had an awards ceremony. My mum came. She said she was very proud of me.

I learned about listening to colleagues and managers. I learned how to make tea. I learned about working with people. I also learned about interview skills. Doing the work experience helped me get my job.

Nusrat sat at a long table smiling, with a cup of tea

Support to do my job

Jodi from Scope told me about the job at the Wellcome Trust. I wanted to come here and work in the lab. I came here for an interview. I was brave, confident, and polite. I liked it. Jodi was there too. I love this job. I want to do it, I enjoy it and I like my colleagues.

I like Jodi because she’s really friendly and very helpful. She supports me so my mum knows it’s okay, she’ll look after me. Jodi comes in to visit me at work. It’s nice to see her and I like working with her. If she doesn’t visit, I can just give her a text. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.

It’s difficult for me to travel. A taxi comes to pick me up and takes me home, takes me to work. Jodi has sorted things out for me. If I didn’t have the taxi it would be difficult for me to do this job.

My hopes for the future

I’ve never experienced bad attitudes. I’ve worked with some good people. It was hard to find a job at first though. I don’t know why, I’m not sure. I was looking for jobs but they wouldn’t hire me. Employers need to change their attitudes and respect other people.

I work hard. Working with other people has improved my skills. In the future I’d like to be able to go out with my family, go shopping, help out at home. I have lots of friends and that makes me happy. I go to a friendship club to meet other friends and I enjoy it. I want to have a job, get paid, go out, enjoy myself. This is what I want to do for my future.

If you would like to share a story about work experience or employment, get in touch with the Stories team.

“Being a parent of a disabled child changes your outlook on life”

This Trustees’ Week, we spoke to Bethan Skyrme, a governor of Scope school, Craig Y Parc, and Celia Atherton, a Scope trustee. They talk about how and why they’re using their skills and time to support Scope.

Bethan

My son, Jac, is disabled and has been attending Craig Y Parc School in Cardiff since he was 17 weeks old. He’s now nearly 15, so it’s been a big part of our lives for a long time. Craig Y Parc helps disabled children to develop skills and realise their potential in a safe and supportive environment.

Bethan and her son Jac smile for the camera
Bethan and her son Jac

Jac originally started at Craig Y Parc for half an hour a week, and became full time when he was three years old. He also now attends a local secondary school one day a week. It really has given him the best start in life, and he wouldn’t be the person he is today without it. Being involved with Craig Y Parc has helped to make me stronger and more confident too.

I’m well known at the school and three years ago was approached to volunteer as a school governor. I was surprised and honoured to be asked and definitely wanted to get involved and to give something back. I’ve just finished my first three year term as a governor and have been asked to stay on for another three, which I am very much looking forward to.

In my day job, I work for Estyn, the body responsible for inspecting schools in Wales. I’ve been able to use the skills and knowledge gained in my professional role to support Craig Y Parc as a governor. This came in particularly handy when we went through our inspection, and ensured we had all the relevant documents in order.

I have a busy life, but I’m organised and make sure we have a set routine at home. This helps to make sure I can fit everything in. As well as being a school governor, I also volunteer with a charity that supports homeless people in Cardiff. I help them move in to permanent accommodation and support them during the transition. Being a parent of a disabled child really does change your outlook on life. It makes you see the world differently and I’m glad that I’m able to give something back to the community and to Craig Y Parc.

Celia

Celia and Scope supporter Nicolas McCarthy
Celia and Scope supporter Nicolas McCarthy

I originally heard about Scope through my work in social justice with disabled children and their families. Three years ago I heard there was a vacancy for a new trustee, and this seemed like a great way to get involved with Scope’s work.

I was really interested in the role as I knew that being a trustee would allow me to work to plan the future of the organisation. I hadn’t been a trustee before, but decided to apply and was thrilled to be offered the role.

Becoming a trustee has really opened my eyes to what we can achieve. All Scope trustees are volunteers. All volunteers at Scope are equal, whether they are based in a shop, a service, at head office, or volunteer remotely. We are all working to push our society to be one where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Being a volunteer, I ensure that I’m an ambassador for Scope. I have visited Scope services and shops to see the varied work we do, and talk about Scope’s ambitions and work wherever I go. I have taken part in Ride London twice to raise funds and awareness for the work Scope does.

I love meeting disabled people and their families who have benefited from Scope’s work. They are a great testament to what we are doing to make the country a better place for disabled people. It’s great that Scope works to support all disabled people, and that we have such a wide reach across all areas of disability.

Since taking on this role, I have now become a trustee for two other charities as well. I really enjoy the way being a trustee allows me to give something back. I like to be busy and am able to juggle volunteering with my other commitments. If you are interested in helping to create the strategy that directs an organisation, or if want to develop your skills, being a trustee is definitely for you. Whatever your age or background, volunteering as a trustee is a great way to make a difference.

If you’re feeling inspired by Bethan and Celia, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.

Find out more about Scope school, Craig Y Parc.

Read more about Trustees’ Week and how you can get involved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Independent living – “I could be sat in my room for nearly 24 hours at a time”

Ricky is currently studying for a Masters degree in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights. In this blog he describes his experience of living independently while at university.

Before going to university, I knew very little about the operation of the social care system. I had attended residential schools for blind and visually impaired people since the age of 8, where specially trained staff were always on hand to assist if and when required. The prospect of not having someone upon whom I could always call was initially very daunting, but my desire to attend university outweighed such anxieties.

When I was planning to go to university, I opted to use a care agency for my support, as I felt this was a safer option than direct payments. After all, I was moving to a new town and didn’t know anyone in the area.

The idea of going to university for the first time without anyone to turn to for advice, let alone taking on the additional hassle of recruiting reliable support workers was very daunting.  Agency staff, in theory at least, would be vetted and experienced and it would be the agency’s responsibility to ensure that I always had the support I needed.

Theory and reality can be very different

Sadly, as is so often the case in life, theory and reality can be very different.  On several occasions, new staff would turn up at my door without me being given prior warning, something which is especially confusing for someone who can’t see.

The agency would often send staff at the incorrect time, inform them that my shifts were shorter than was actually the case, and would even tell me regularly that they weren’t sure if they had any staff members who could visit me on a given day, which made me feel more anxious than words can describe, given that my family lived in Ipswich, 125 miles away.

On one occasion, I was told the agency had no staff who could come and visit me that day.  When I asked the agency what they expected me to do for food, I was simply told that I would have to make the best of things and that I would be fed the following day!

Half-way through my second year at university, I decided to take the plunge and switch to direct payments. The direct payments system is not plain sailing by any means. It is a constant juggling act trying to ensure that all staff have sufficient hours to keep them happy in the job and there is no guarantee that suitable applicants will respond to adverts.

Direct payments

Nevertheless, direct payments have given me much more flexibility and I have been able to recruit many staff with whom I have a lot in common, so these people are not only my carers but also great friends. A direct payment support service supports me with logistical issues, such as ensuring correct taxation, National Insurance contributions, and pay slips for my staff.

Until recently, I had no more than 22 hours of support while at university and around half this while living at home. This support met my basic needs, but meant that on days when I had no classes at university I could be sat in my room for nearly 24 hours at a time. I therefore had very little social interaction during term-time. This, combined with the problems I had with my previous support arrangements, took its toll upon my mental health.

However, I have recently secured an increase in my hours to 41.5 per week.  As a result of this, I am confident that the forthcoming academic year will allow me to be even more independent and have an even more fulfilling university experience.

Find out more about young disabled people’s experiences of living independently. Read our new research report, Leading my life my way.

“I have always strived to be as independent as possible, but it hasn’t always been straightforward”

Becca runs a self-directed group for disabled young people moving into adult services in Ipswich called Progression Sessions. In this blog Becca describes her experience of independent living.

I have always strived to be as independent as possible, but it hasn’t always been straightforward. This became obvious when I finished sixth form and began to look for work. I had chosen not to go to university, because the idea of spending another 3 years listening to lectures and writing long essays had no appeal to me at all. Looking back, I was very naive in thinking it would be quick and easy.

For three years I had to visit the job centre every other week, relay to them what I had been doing to look for work, and was then sent off on my way.

Was I ever going to find a job?

Eventually, I was put on the Work Programme, which involved the same sort of treatment, with a few extra training courses to attend. I went to many interviews, but nothing ever came from them, and I was starting to get anxious. Was I ever going to find a job? What was wrong with me? How was I going to change? Then there was my worst fear: what if my disability was the problem?

To keep busy (and build up my CV), I volunteered at charity shops and a local media centre, where I wrote film reviews for their magazine. Meanwhile, my friends were at uni, seemingly having a great time partying and studying subjects they loved in new places outside of home. Of course I was immensely proud of them, but I couldn’t shake how isolated I felt in my little, unemployed bubble.

“It was such a relief to finally feel like I was being listened to and, most importantly, supported.”

In 2013 I volunteered for a local disability charity writing blog posts for their e-newsletter every week. The people I worked with were lovely, and I began to feel like I could be useful to society after all. One of my colleagues recognised that the Work Programme wasn’t helping me, and after all the paperwork was sorted out, I began receiving support from a local social enterprise. It was such a relief to finally feel like I was being listened to and, most importantly, supported.

I began a 12 month apprenticeship at the charity I had been volunteering at and undertook a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in business administration.

The need for better support

Through this experience, I recognised a need for better support for disabled people with independent living, particularly employment. I was also keen to know if anyone else felt as let down by career advisors as I did. Now that my friends were leaving university, it was clear I wasn’t alone in this feeling at all. It’s paramount that support services realise that the support needs of young disabled people can be very different to those of older social care users. However, if support services do not take this into account it can really affect our ability to live independently.

Find out more about young disabled people’s experiences of living independently. Read our new research report, Leading my life my way.

“Managing volunteers is the best part of my job!”

Tina Taylor is a Volunteer Coordinator for Scope’s Face to Face befriending programme in Halton in the North West. Jo Smyth is a Volunteer Coordinator in the Scope Retail Admin Team in London.

For this year’s International Volunteer Managers Day, we chatted to them about why they love working with Scope volunteers, and give us their top tips for effective volunteer management.

Tina Taylor

Volunteer manager for Face 2 Face Halton
Tina Volunteer Manager for Halton Face 2 Face

I originally got involved with Scope as a volunteer myself. I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome and wanted to do something to help me get out and about. I was also doing a degree in counselling at the time and befriending other parents of disabled children fitted in well with my existing commitments and interests.

Volunteering with Scope helped me to find a job working with disabled young people in my local area. Once the project came to an end, I was looking for other opportunities and came across the Face to Face role with Scope. I felt that the role was made for me, so decided to go for it, and got the job!

As a Volunteer Coordinator, I organise the befriending programme for parents of disabled children in Halton. All of my befrienders are volunteers, and I’ve got almost 16 volunteering with me at present. Often parents who are being befriended get so much out of it that they volunteer to become befrienders afterwards.

I love working with volunteers and matching up new befrienders with parents of disabled children who need support. It’s really satisfying to see the volunteers enjoying their befriending, and the parents get so much out of it too. Being a volunteer manager is very fulfilling. Getting to see my volunteers’ confidence build has been great and my team has really gelled.

Jo Smyth

head and sholders of woman in park
Jo Volunteer Manager for Scope

I started working for Scope at the beginning of 2016 in the Retail Admin Team. We support Scope’s chain of 230 retail shops and ensure they have the tools and resources required to run effectively.

I have a personal connection to disability and wanted to work for an organisation that is making the country a better place for disabled people. After a few months, I took on a new challenge and became the Volunteer Coordinator for my team.

I have managed volunteers before as part of a national project linked to the 2012 Olympics. In this role I worked with volunteer ambassadors who ran a series of maths and science challenge competitions in schools. I enjoyed this role and was keen to work with volunteers again.

In my team I currently have five volunteers. They’re all from different backgrounds and have different reasons why they chose to volunteer with Scope. I’m a real people person, so have loved getting to know my volunteers. Coaching them and seeing them develop and grow is a really rewarding part of my role. I like to give my volunteers the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities in a safe environment where they can ask questions and try things out. Being a volunteer manager is definitely the best part of my role.

If you’re a volunteer manager, or are looking to become a volunteer manager, here are some top tips from Tina and Jo on getting the best from your volunteers.

  1. Appreciate your volunteers and say thank you for all their hard work. We write thank you cards for volunteers for National Volunteers’ Week, and also organise thanks events and get-togethers throughout the year to show our gratitude.
  2. Value your volunteers’ time and commitment. They give up their time for free and are making a commitment to your organisation. It’s important to respect this, and to allow them to fit volunteering in around their existing commitments. For example, one of our volunteers has some ongoing health issues, so we agreed that she would take a step back from her volunteering activities for now.
  3. Give volunteers opportunities to grow and develop. We both make time to talk to our volunteers about personal development and highlight relevant opportunities to them.
  4. Use coaching skills to get to know your volunteers and to help them work through any issues they may have. Coaching some of our volunteers has helped to work out what their next steps might be for them, such as looking for employment, or taking on a new project.
  5. Be organised! I (Tina) have quite a large volunteer team and I need to keep track of when and where they are doing their befriending. I use my diary to do this, which ensures that I know when my volunteers should be checking in with me, and helps to keep them safe. Being organised helps me (Jo) to keep a note of my volunteers’ birthdays and to make sure I have a card ready for them!

If you’re feeling inspired by Tina and Jo, take a look at our volunteering opportunities.

Find out more about International Volunteer Managers Day.

End the Awkward comes to an end: here are some highlights

With End the Awkward coming to an end for 2016. End the Awkward project manager, Neal Brown shares some of the top highlights.

Two thirds of people feeling awkward around disability, and some people feel so awkward that they’re avoiding disabled people altogether.

Considering 1 in 5 people are disabled, that’s a lot of time feeling pretty uncomfortable. We felt it was time to put a stop to it.

Over the last seven weeks we’ve been running our End the Awkward campaign, aiming to tackle the awkwardness that many people face around disability.

In this time our videos have been viewed more than 7.5 million times, and more than 71,000 people have visited our website looking for helpful tips.

Awkward moments

The reaction to the campaign has been fantastic. We’ve been inundated with people sharing their own awkward stories.

Jenny shared her experiences of awkward situations with her autistic child.

“As a parent of a little 4 year old who has autism and still learning to talk and has sensory issues yes people do react different and act awkward around my child… I’ve had people say there us something wrong with that boy. I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t take our kids on buses. [The] End the Awkward campaign is doing an amazing job in raising everyday issues that people with disabilities face.”

While Adrianne shared this:

“Some guy asked what I had done when I came to the till in my wheelchair. But the awkward moment was when he kept prying after I said: ‘Oh, I’m just disabled’, and implied I must be injured and not sick.”

This year’s campaign saw us break new ground, partnering with UNILAD to create exciting new content. Have you ever used a guide dog as a sat nav? While we knew this was based on the real experiences of Emily, a Scope supporter, it’s a lot more common that you might think.

Gavin told us:

“In the 18 years of being a guide dog mobility instructor I heard stories like this on an amazingly regular basis.”

Ending the Awkward around the world

We’ve also inspired people across the world to start talking about these issues. In this video, RebelWheels NYC shares her thoughts on dating disabled people.

While our campaign is coming to a close for 2016, we know that there remains a lot of awkward situations around.

Help us to keep spreading the word by sharing our content with your friends, family and colleagues.

Tell the Government what you think about support in and out of work

Yesterday the Government launched “Improving Lives”, a consultation on proposals around disability, health and work.

We know that disabled people are twice as likely as the general public to be unemployed and just 48 per cent of disabled people are in work, compared to 80 per cent of the wider population.

The difference between the two rates, known as the disability employment gap, has stood at roughly the same level for more than a decade.

We have been calling on the Government to deliver on its commitment to halve the disability employment gap, and to deliver a strategy that tackles the barriers disabled people face in and out of work.

Today, the Government have published some proposals on how to address this. The question is will these proposals translate to meaningful legislative and policy change?

What is “Improving Lives”?

Improving Lives is a Green Paper, which essentially means the Government wants to find out about and discuss an issue with the public before deciding on any action.

Improving Lives is a document about improving the support available to disabled people in and out of work.  The Government are looking at the following areas:

  • The support people need to get into work
  • The support working disabled people might need
  • Assessments for out of work benefits and employment support
  • The role of employers in recruiting and supporting disabled employees
  • Health and care for people both in and out of work

You can read Improving Lives in full on the Government website.  It’s also available in in easy read,  BSL, audio and braille formats.

The consultation is open from 31 October 2016 until Friday 17 February 2017.

A young disabled women using a computer
Mima, who took part in our First Impressions, First Experiences employment scheme

What do we think about the Green Paper?

It’s right that the Government is consulting on support for disabled people in and out of work. We welcome some proposals, including working more closely with employers, challenging attitudes and halving the disability employment gap.

However, we’re concerned that the Government is considering extending requirements to look for jobs and attend employment programmes to people in the support group of ESA.

Not every disabled person should be expected to work, and everyone’s contribution to society should be recognised regardless of whether they work or not.

We want to see specialist employment support made available to all disabled people who want to work, for this to be voluntary, and for it to not impact on any financial support.

We’re also concerned about previous decisions to take £30 a week from new claimants placed in the WRAG group. Reducing disabled people’s incomes won’t incentivise people to find a job. It will just make life harder. We’ll be urging government to rethink this cut, as part of our response to the Green Paper published yesterday.

The paper sets out some important questions about reform to the fit for work test, accessing employment support and making workplaces more inclusive.

However, this document is just the first step. At Scope we want to see meaningful consultation with disabled people lead to real policy, legal and attitudinal change. There remains a huge amount of work to be done to tackle the barriers disabled people face entering and staying in work. It’s vital that the whole Government now listens to disabled people’s views on how to do this.

How can I get involved?

You can respond to the consultation using the Department of Health Consultation Hub website.

If you would prefer, you can respond by email: workandhealth@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Or by post:

The Work, Health and Disability Consultation,
Ground Floor, Caxton House,
6-12 Tothill Street,
London,
SW1H 9NA

What is Scope going to do?

Scope will put together a response to the consultation.

As part of this, we’d like to hear from disabled people about their experiences with things like claiming ESA, taking part in employment support programmes and getting support while at work.

We’ll put out more information on how to get involved over the coming weeks, but in the meantime if you’d like to get involved please contact Mel Wilkes, a Policy Adviser on melanie.wilkes@scope.org.uk