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If you’re disabled, finding a job can be a difficult and disappointing experience – help us change that

Josh is 32 and lives in London. He is supporting Scope and Virgin Media‘s new campaign Work With Me, which aims to bring about real change, to ensure that disabled people who can and want to work, are given the same opportunities as everyone else. 

I graduated with a degree in Politics and International Relations in 2011, then I moved back to London and primarily looked for jobs in public administration. I’ve had a lot of voluntary opportunities but only two paid jobs.

I suppose, like many disabled people, I’ve found it difficult to go through the traditional channels. I’ve done countless interviews and applications but only had probably one or two interview opportunities from that. I think a lot of my work experience has been down to sheer perseverance.

I feel like the whole process of finding work and applying for jobs is so stressful for disabled people. There were days when it was terrible. You’re just sending loads and loads of messages but getting no response other than the standard email just sent by the system.

Scope’s new research found that when applying for jobs only 51% of disabled applications result in an interview compared with 69% for non-disabled applicants. Also on average, disabled people apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people when searching for a job. For me, it’s been a really difficult and disappointing experience.

Barriers to work

Behind any possible opportunity that I might get, there are always considerations that non-disabled people don’t have to concern themselves with. I’m always looking for opportunities but those opportunities need to physically work for me and there don’t seem to be many of them. I felt really supported in my last job but one of the reasons I left was that the travel was just impossible.

Support from the Jobcentre doesn’t really work for disabled people because it’s a very standard process, they’re not offering bespoke support. Sometimes you go to these places and their advice is just to do things that you’re already doing. Most of the time I made my way there for a face-to-face appointment and they would just ask, “How is your job search going?”  – just the basic questions.

The disability advisor in one Jobcentre was so good but that support wasn’t available in every Jobcentre. It just seems to be luck whether you get one. Having someone who could look at things from my point of view really helped. Sometimes, it was just having somebody to actually talk to who understood.

Attitudes can be a barrier too. Scope’s new research found that over a third (37%) of respondents who don’t feel confident in getting a job believe employers won’t hire them because of their impairment or condition.

Personally, I’ve felt quite intimidated bringing up my adjustment needs with potential employers because you just think “Well, if they find somebody who can do the typical 9-5, they’ll go for them.”

Work With Me

The latest Government figures show there are one million disabled people in the UK who want to work but are currently unemployed. I think that’s a real scandal and a real loss of potential.

That’s why I’m supporting Work With Me – a three-year initiative by Scope and Virgin Media which aims to understand and tackle the barriers disabled people face getting into and staying in work.

The campaign is inviting members of the public, employers and Government to work together to address these issues more quickly. So join me in supporting this campaign to ensure that disabled people who can and want to work aren’t denied the opportunity any longer.

Be part of making change happen, find out more on our website and share #WorkWithMe on your social media networks.

We’ll be publishing a series of powerful stories, videos and photography over the coming weeks to highlight the issue so that we can secure everyday equality for disabled people. 

“You’re not what we’re looking for. Someone else was a better fit.”

Right now there are over one million disabled people who can and want to work but are being shut out of the workplace.

We know that disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people.

And our new research, released today, demonstrates that many disabled people are being consistently overlooked in the jobs market.

When applying for jobs only half of applications from disabled applicants result in an interview, compared with 69% for non-disabled applicants.

Graphic text which says: "On average, disabled people apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people in their job search"
On average, disabled people apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people

Our research found that more than a third (37%) of disabled people who don’t feel confident about getting a job believe employers won’t hire them because of their impairment or condition.

Doors shut. Barriers Up. No way forward.

This has resulted in disabled people being more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. And, it’s no surprise the disability employment gap has remained stubbornly stuck for a decade.

It’s time for this to change.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Virgin Media to launch a new campaign to raise awareness of these issues and to call on businesses and government to take action on disability employment urgently.

Work With Me aims to support disabled people to get into and stay in work and raise awareness that nobody should be overlooked because of their impairment or condition.

Graphic text that says "Two in five disabled people don't feel confident they will get a job in the next six months"
Two in five disabled people don’t feel confident they will get a job in the next six months

It’s time for action now

We’ve kicked off the campaign with a giant installation spelling out ‘Work With Me’ on London’s Southbank to make the issue clear.

We were joined by some of our amazing disabled Storytellers who’ve told us about the barriers that the face every day as they try to get the job that they want.

And we need your help too.

Be part of making change happen, find out more on our website and share #WorkWithMe on your social media networks.

We’ll be publishing a series of powerful stories, videos and photography over the coming weeks to highlight the issue so that we can secure everyday equality for disabled people. 

Virgin Media Business’s VOOM: vote for your favourite disability product pitch

VOOM is a competition from Virgin Media Business giving businesses and professions the chance to pitch for a £250,000 ad campaign and £50,000 in cash!

Vote for your favourite pitches before voting closes on 23 May.

Here’s our round-up of some of the most interesting pitches we’ve seen which are about supporting disabled people.

Neatebox system

Women sitting in kitchen with guide dog using her mobile

The Neatebox app sends a signal from the user’s phone directly to staff in partnering businesses to tell them what the user needs and to give them tips on how best to interact and help.

Inclusive Leisure

Diagram of a gym

Inclusive Leisure wants to create a fully-equipped gym designed for disabled users but accessible for all.

Limitless Travel

Pier going out to lake and mountains. Text reads #Limitless

Limitless Travel wants to create a community of disabled travelers to share their knowledge and travel experiences.

Opening Minds Training

Disabled man with woman and shop assistant in a clothes shop

Opening Minds provides support and training to organisations from disabled people. The sessions give businesses invalue insight into how to be more inclusive and the challenges around accessibility.

Magnum Services

Magnum Services logo

Magnum Services uses professional amputee actors and makeup artists for simulation in film, television, emergency services and the military.

Access Champ

Access champ logo and website address - accesschamp.co.uk

Accesschamp wants to train hotel, restaurant and venue staff on how to provide outstanding customer care and accessible venues for everyone.

Everyone can play

Drawing of adventure play space

Thomley is an activity centre for disabled people with play areas, sensory room and a seven acre outdoor play space. They want to create a new exciting outdoor space.

Seable HolidaysGroup of people guiding each other down a road

Seable is a social enterprise which provides accessible and active holidays.  They want to recruit a larger team in order to scale up their business.

Vote for your favourite pitches before voting closes on 23 May. Find out more about how VOOM works.

Virgin Media’s 100-mile cycle challenge

Tristan Dhalla, Lead for Management and Behavioural Skills Development at Virgin Media, tells us how his team of ‘Mamils‘ raised £2,500 for Scope by taking on the Manchester 100-mile bike race.

It’s an inspirational tale of Lycra, teamwork  and questionable post-race nutrition. 

When one of our Directors laid down the challenge for the Virgin Media’s People Team to raise £10k for Scope, riding  100 miles felt like a good idea. Maybe this was because it was at our Christmas party and bravado had been enhanced by a couple of glasses of wine.

Anyway, a small, mediocre but keen group of cyclists from the aforementioned team decided to complete the Manchester 100 challenge around the beautiful countryside of Cheshire in September.

This gave us nine months to lose a few pounds and get in enough training; surely enough time?

The year seemed to fly by, involving two of the team becoming fathers (and thus making training a challenge) and a few of the inevitable niggles surfacing as we turned up the training into the summer.

Sadly, we lost one of our team members who fell off whilst training (she’s fine now, but was not able to ride for a few months so had to withdraw).

The big race

Fundraising for Scope provided us with a great opportunity to promote the work Scope does to change perceptions about disability. We asked with colleagues, suppliers, friends and family to dig deep and before we knew it, we were at the starting line; full of excitement and trepidation in equal measure, proudly wearing our jerseys emblazoned with Virgin Media and Scope logos.

Without a doubt, we were a marvellous example of ‘MAMILs’ –  Middle Aged Men In Lycra.

Thankfully the weather was kind to us and the first half of the ride was relatively uneventful, fueled by malt loaf, flapjacks and bananas (the usual fare of any cyclist).

We merrily pedaled along, chatting to other riders and immersing ourselves in the buzz of the day. The event was really well run, with marshals at each junction – almost like being in the Tour De France, just a lot slower!

We stopped in Nantwich for lunch at one of the designated rest points and munched on much needed sandwiches and cake washed down by the mandatory coffee.

As we ate into the final 50 or so miles, legs were starting to tire, we (temporarily) lost one of our team and those dodgy knees that once seemed to work fine started to hurt. The banter and excitement of the first half subsided as we started to count down the miles to go. The last 25 miles really started to bite, I guess we’d done most of the ride but there was still a fair bit ahead of us.

‘Emergency’ energy gels (basically like concentrated red bull in a sachet) started to come out from our back pockets and with only 10 miles to go, we knuckled down and sheer determination kicked in as our speed started to pick up with a realisation that we were actually going to nail this!

We span to the finish line in Wythenshawe Park motivated by will power, a sense of being part of a team and the knowledge that our efforts had contributed £2500 to the Virgin Media People Team Scope fund.

Post-race refreshments

As we all trickled over the finish line we were met with high-fives and cheers from the crowds who had gathered to watch the spectacle. We each tucked into some deserved cake and some much needed water as we received our certificates of achievement. The Big Mac (my treat I reserve for such auspicious occasions) I ate at the M6 services as I headed home to Bristol had never tasted so good. Next year anyone?