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I am officially an employee

Yes that is right- I have got a job! I am officially an employee. It may not sound a big thing, especially when I tell you it is four hours once a week. Nevertheless, those that know my journey will know it is massive.

It is a step in the right direction. A step towards being independent and self sufficient. 

I am so pleased. It makes me feel like I am contributing to society, and valued. For so long I wondered whether I would ever be able or well enough to get a job.

Hannah sitting in her powerchair under a desk with a laptop, monitor, keyboard and mouse on it. She is smiling at the camera.
Hannah working

Obviously, I couldn't survive on the wages of 4 hours a week, unless I was well, maybe a footballer, or top lawyer or something! I think maybe with a footballer, 1 hour would be sufficient, however I am told I have exceeded my peak of 25, I am not a male and my mobility maybe a problem! Therefore, for the moment I will still be on ESA (Employment Support Allowance). I hope, however in the future I will be able to build up my hours and at some point come off ESA.

How did I get my job?

In 2019 I finished my AAT level 4 Professional Diploma in accounting which I had been studying part-time. I wanted to get some work experience, to gain some practical experience and gain my MAAT (Member of Association of Accounting Technicans) status. I was then a 28 year old young woman who uses a powerchair and had never worked. I was worried about how colleagues would act and treat me, I was going into this whole new world of work. I thought with no work experience, having never worked and having a disability I would have zero chance of a job. Furthermore, a very part-time job, that suited me. 

So to improve my confidence, banish stereotypes and show I am capable, I obtained some work experience. I thought even if I don't get a job at a company I do work experience with, I will have it on my CV as experience and they can reference to a future prospective employer that I am not off sick every week, or any other misconceptions some other companies or employers may have.

After meeting and connecting at an event, it was an introduction and then I was lucky enough to arrange some work experience. 

I started this in December 2019 and was initially at the office for 3 hours once a week. (You maybe interested in reading my post about My first few days of work experience)

Then Covid-19 arrived in March 2020 and I ended up having a break while everything was up in the air. I continued my work experience, however from home, in August 2020 and in December 2020 I completed my 6 months work experience.

By then having felt I had adapted to the world of work and then working from home, I asked if I could extend it by 2 months. I felt I had settled in and was learning so much more.

In February 2021 I finished my work experience, I was unsure where I was heading next. I knew I wanted to try and get a very part time job. However, I do choose my moments, the economy in dire straights and most companies making people redundant rather than wanting to recruit! Furthermore, it isn't really like you see many job advertisements for 4 hours a week.

Anyhow, I took the opportunity to ask the lovely company I did my work experience for as to whether there were any opportunities in finance.

They came back to me and discussed an opportunity they had and tried to be as accommodating as possible.

Then I got offered the job.


What do I do?

My job title is Finance Administrator. I do the weekly sales report.

The system & Financial incentives of working

Financially, I don't think I will be any better off, as everything I earn I believe is going to be taken by social care towards my care package. It is good to think I am contributing, but the financial incentive as to why most people actually work is taken away. Furthermore, to be able to cover my care package (and be able to live) I would need several full-time very well paid jobs. So the thought of this being unattainable unless my care drastically decreases is worrying. Similarly, many people save money for a house, that will not be possible. It doesn't seem fair? 

The system

I believe if I do get to the point I can earn enough that I come off ESA and then I have a relapse or something I would then be something like £30 worse off a week. Which may not sound significant but it certainly is on my income, a large percentage. In which case is it paying me for trying?
In a way if I try and then I fail I will be penalised. You can almost see why would you bother trying. However, I am going for it so fingers crossed it will be a long term success.

Access to work

Access to work is a great government scheme. One which I don't know much about but I am endeavouring to learn more and understand. It is a grant scheme that supports disabled people in work with additional costs for adaptations, equipment and support. Some of the things they can support individuals with are sign language interperaters, screen readers, support workers, travel costs to and from work and powerchairs to name a few.
One thing I seem to understand is to get support it has to be a paid job and if you apply in the first 6 weeks of a new job Access to work will cover 100% of the cost. If you apply after the first 6 weeks your company may have to contribute depending on the size of the company.

This maybe a silly question, or I might be missing the point but why will companies want to employ disabled people if they are going to cost them money?

The other complication is what is seen as a 'reasonable adjustment'. Those magic two words when you say what is 'reasonable'? I think Access to Work will expect your company to cover the cost of any reasonable adjustments.

Disabled people make good employees

On the other hand, disabled people are some of the most hard working and determined people I have ever met. Attributes, that I think are sort after in the workplace.

MAAT status 

In other news I got my MAAT (Member of the Association of Accounting Technicans) status approved earlier this week, after gaining 6 months work experience and filling in forms and documentation. So now I am officially Hannah Deakin MAAT.

A screenshot of an email from AAT confirming Hannah now has MAAT (Member of Association of Accounting Technicans) status.
MAAT status

My advice

If you want to get a job, or are trying to get a job if you can do work experience I think it is a great opportunity to show what you CAN do. Don't get me wrong I don't think you should have to prove yourself. However, I know firstly, it gave me confidence and it unfortunately is a difficult and judgmental world we live in.
Why not check Scope they have a employment programme they run.
I hope you are able to find a welcoming and inclusive company like I have. Have hope there are some out there :)

Hannah x

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