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I get really passionate about what I do, I think because I’m disabled myself, and because I’m from a very working class background.
I’m a massive geek about my job, I really love it. I love seeing employers changing their attitudes and how they’re blown away by their experience. You have got so much stacked against you, if you’re a young disabled person looking for a job, and I think it’s so important that we’re doing all we can as an organisation to help those young people who are disabled, find the ways to do what they want to do. Because if we’re aiming for equality for all, no more no less, then for me a point of equality is that a young disabled person is allowed
to pursue their dreams in terms of their career, and that we don’t just match them to whatever menial job we have. I was speaking to someone about the fact that in the boroughs I work in, there are offerings around youth unemployment and there are employment strategies and things like that but there’s no lead on disability and employment. The barriers facing our young people are so complex and obviously it changes from young person to young person.
One barrier is perceptions – unfortunately, so [the young person will] maybe get to the interview stage and they’ll have cerebral palsy and their speech is a bit slurred, so it’s going to go to the guy who doesn’t have that. Or they don’t even get through to that interview stage because there are unfortunately still employers who still think ‘well why would I take the disabled person over somebody who’s going to be no bother?’
I do a lot of work with employers, just sort of calming their fears about what disability is. Even when they say ‘yeah we’ll take somebody on a placement’, they panic. And they’re like ‘we don’t have a ramp’ and I’m like ‘it’s OK, he’s got schizophrenia, its fine, he doesn’t need a ramp’. And so seeing that is just a huge thing.
Being in work is about more than just a wage. It is about being independent, interacting with your peers, and being able to achieve your goals and aspirations.
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