Employment as a disabled person – Claudia’s Story
Following Jill’s blog on her experience of trying to gain employment when you’re disabled, Claudia shares with us her story and recounts some of the obstacles she’s faced in pursuing her career.
When it came to work experience during my fourth year at school, I wanted to do something with sports. I was a gymnast with City of Glasgow Gymnastics Disability team at the time, and I wanted to become a gymnastics coach. To gain experience of working in a sports centre, I choose to do my work experience in Scotstoun Leisure Centre. However, when I arrived I was told to clean the toilets, and at the time I was suffering from a really sore hip because of my Cerebral Palsy. This made my hip worse and I only lasted half a day.
Once my exam results came through before starting fifth year, I found out I’d done really well in my standard grade administration and decided to do intermediate 2. After achieving a great result, I decided to do administration as a career. I didn’t want to leave school with no work experience so during sixth year I did a programme called Bridges to Work. Bridges to Work got me work experience in an office called Drivers Jonas.
After leaving school I knew college wasn’t for me and I wanted to go out and work. I applied for a modern apprenticeship, but I wasn’t ready so I went on a ‘Get Ready for Work’ programme. I was working in St. Mungo’s Academy providing administration support to different departments.
After gaining more work experience I was ready for a modern apprenticeship, however I came across other barriers such as working a 35 hour week and answering phones was hard due to my speech difficulty. I could only work a 25 hour week as I found it very tiring. I was lucky enough to find a company called Glasgow East Regeneration Agency (now called Job & Business Glasgow). I started my two year apprenticeship and gained a SVQ Level 2 & 3 in Business and Administration. After a year and a half into my apprenticeship I was finding the 25 hour week tiring and it started to affect my health. I had to cut down to a 16 hour week which I still do now.
Once my modern apprenticeship finished and after a year of being unsuccessful at finding another placement, I found an organisation called Shaw Trust which supports disabled people into work. Shaw Trust managed to get me a placement back at Job & Business Glasgow, but in a different office. I had a six month contract which was followed up by a three month extension. Once the extension had finished I went back to Shaw Trust who got me a further six months at Job & Business Glasgow.
In December 2014, when the six months in Job & Business Glasgow ended I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go next so I took some time out. In August 2015, I decided I better start looking for my next step. I wanted to do some volunteering so I contacted Volunteer Glasgow and they put me in touch with Project Scotland. Then I heard that Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living who supports disabled people in to employment had an administration post within their company. I applied and I was successful. At the same time Project Scotland contacted me and told me that they had a volunteer place at Bobath Scotland. I couldn’t believe my luck when the two came up at once after being unemployed for a year!
In January 2016, I started with Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living within their Equality Academy team. This was a year long contract. I worked there providing administration support and gaining some new skills. I also took up the volunteer place at Bobath Scotland and attended on a Friday. Recently I was meant to finish in Glasgow Centre for Inclusive Living Equality Academy, but I was offered a new 6 months contract.
I hope one day I’ll get a permanent job instead of short term placements but in a way I feel lucky as some people with Cerebral Palsy have never been successful. My story looks successful but trust me I’ve faced a lot of disappointments, barriers and frustration to make my story successful.
I hope that my story encourages other people with Cerebral Palsy to look for employment and not give up at the first hurdle.
If you want to find out more about getting into work, have a look at these websites: