For the past month, I’ve been enrolled on a disability empowerment programme called the ‘I CAN, I WILL PROGRAMME’. This programme was structured to help me:
- Scale new mountains!
- Develop self-confidence
- Focus on the things you can change
- Enable me to plan for a more fulfilling and active lifestyle, and work potential
- Support me to be more resilient and to cope with setbacks
I had 90 minute workshops each week for 3 weeks:
- Session 1- “Doing what’s normal”
- Session 2- “Developing my resilience and self-confidence”
- Session 3- “Looking at work”
- 1 to 1 Empowerment Coaching Support
In the first session, I’ve learned that our experience of living with disability is formative and character building. Disability is always represented by a wheelchair, when only 1.5% of the world are wheelchair users. We also discussed the difference between mindset vs skillset. Mindset is predetermined whereas skillset can be obtained.
Then we talked about the different models of disability. The Social Model of Disability includes people’s views, opinions and attitudes. It has been the prominent approach to disability over the last 30+ years. It was developed by disabled people based on real life experience of discrimination and inclusion and challenging disabling barriers. It is outward looking and focused on the things in society that can be changed or improved, like, the environment, information, communications and people’s attitudes. It’s a problem solving approach which gives disabled people greater control over vital, even basic decisions, like, from what time to get out of bed on a morning to employability and education choices.
This approach enables you to better understand how reasonable adjustments can be implemented, focuses on the things you can influence or change and promotes valued skills.
The Individual Model of Disability is the medical aspect of disability. I also looked at, ‘what makes me ‘stand out’. The qualities that make me stand out are that I’m a good communicator, guidance and resilience.
During the second session, we talked about developing resilience and self confidence. Other subjects included were, daily strategies for enhancing resilience and optimism.
Then we took a SWOT assessment. During this assessment we looked at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
We also discussed Google Mapping. In order to carry this out successfully, one must put their postal code on Google Maps. Then draw an inch to the set scale 2 miles and print. Then put the saucer onto draw round from your house. Finally, plot every business within radius to you. We also briefly discussed ‘Elevator Pitching’. Elevator Pitching is promoting your unique selling point. This method is used for CVs and Cover Letters.
The course facilitator, Simon Cox, also suggested that Video CVs may be the best way to showcase a disabled jobseeker’s skills, qualities and work experience because in some cases, employers may only skim read or check the beginning of a CV, not the whole thing. Video CVs may help disabled candidates to stand a better chance at the application/ interview stage.
In the third session, we talked about developing our ‘elevator pitch’ in five easy steps.
- Figure out what is unique about what you do.
- Make it exciting.
- Keep it simple.
- Write it down.
- Practice, practice, then practice some more.
In the job application process:
- Be familiar
- Work your network
- Hone your pitch- Remember some 70% of jobs don’t go to advert but are filled through networks and word of mouth recommendations.
In order to plan to move forward:
- Read and highlight the information you like.
- Keep learning and improving but be clear and focused on what.
- Work on your goals and plans.
- Share your goals and plans with others, especially the people close to you, those who can support you.
- Engage your Work Coach in your plans, they can help.
- No excuses|No procrastination|DO IT!
“Do the productive and creative things you love to do- it is more likely to get done!”-Simon Cox
We also looked at the subject of having a disability/health condition and finding work.
How to apply ways that can support you in making a faster way to work and how to manage your disability or health condition better include the following:
Get the doctor on your side
- Clarify and confirm a diagnosis. Be sure to get a full and understandable diagnosis for your condition.
- Ask questions to explore treatment options and what would be right for you. Write down your questions and take them with you.
- What further information do you need- specialist services, self help groups.
- What exercise and stretching does your GP recommend you do?
- Have you reviewed the best medications to support you?
- Ensure you have a personal treatment plan.
The right work is good for you
- Have you shared with your Work Coach what you have done in the past and what you are good at?
- How does your daily and weekly routine’s inform and shape what you can do to return to work or just get more active?
- Think widely about the kinds of work you can do now or in the future. When your personal health situation changes, then so too might your work goals and abilities but remember to think how you can use your knowledge and skills in different ways.
- Keep up to date on your area of work/interests or sector use contacts, news and specialist journals.
Effective condition self-management and control
- Remember you are the expert on your health or disability.
- Your Work Coach can support you towards, or into work or help you improve your quality of life helping you to get more active.
- Why not make a plan of the things in life you want to improve or do better? Maybe it’s what you choose to eat, how you exercise your daily routine and activities and how you manage your available time.
- A plan will give you a focus and purpose with some clear goals.
- Seeing yourself achieve and progress your plan will make you more confident and feel good about yourself.
- Discuss with your Work Coach what you think you need to help you keep moving forward.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.”–Yogi Berry
Support for improving mental health
- Firstly, it’s very common to feel down and worried about things when you are also experiencing other health challenges.
- By discussing your mental health with your GP or a specialist adviser or counsellor you can get the right support to help you manage your situation.
- Ask about counselling or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and if they would help you?
Physical activity-exercise and stretching
- By getting more active not only will you feel better about yourself, it will also help you to improve your health and feel better.
- Start with gentle exercise and build it up such as a walk in the park, cycling or dancing. Be aware of your limitations, so don’t over do it.
- Cardio-vascular exercise- Your heart pumping and a little out of breath- is known to be good for your physical and mental health.
Ergonomic Solutions-adjusting the way work is done
- Technological advances mean almost all jobs and how they are done has changed.
- Research the way jobs are done and how you might do it with your disability, condition or limitations.
- An employer has a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to a job if due to a disability you experience a disadvantage. This means looking at how the job might be done differently to accommodate your needs as with equipment, aids, adaptations or changes to processes or procedures.
- With the right adjustments disabled people are productive and effective employees.
- Explore ‘Access to Work’ for help that’s available.
Another topic we discussed are the core employment skills for success which are:
- BASIC SKILLS
- PERSONAL SKILLS
- JOB ATTAINMENT
At the end of the programme, I had a one to one interview with course facilitator Simon Cox. During the interview, we discussed my future career plans and goals. Even though I have a degree in History and Politics, I’ve decided to explore Accessibility Consultancy as a career option. I’ve carried out some research on the career field and gained some contacts as well. I’m looking at doing a qualification for it in order to gain more knowledge experience.
This course has really helped me focus on my career and get organised in planning for my future. I am happy that I completed it. As a disabled jobseeker, I would really recommend this course to other disabled jobseekers who are trying to start or change careers.