We Are IT…

We are IT.  We are Support.  We are the NHS.

This is the slogan currently being used in an advertisement promoting IT related jobs in the NHS.  The advertisement itself is bold and dynamic, showing how IT systems form the backbone of the NHS and help to change, improve and even save lives.

But there is a lot more to the NHS than IT systems, software and hardware; there are the components sometimes known as wetware or meatware – the people who use these systems to assist in looking after patients.

These people are nurses, doctors and consultants.  They are surgeons, health care assistants and domestic staff.

These people are dedicated to providing first class patient care.  They are highly skilled, well trained, professional and human.

Whilst these people are all experts in their own field, and confident in what they do day in and day out, they are not always experts in IT and a lot of them aren’t confident when systems do something unexpected, as can happen.

That’s when they call us in IT support and say things like “Oh I’m stupid when it comes to computers” or “You must get fed up of me calling” and all sorts of similar phrases.  We also get lots of people apologising for having forgotten their passwords.

With these people I like to turn the statement around and show them that they are not stupid/thick/clueless/whatever.  I take their job role and ask them if they would expect me to be able to do it.

For a nurse I might respond with “OK, so you take blood samples, if you asked me to do that I’d feel stupid and wouldn’t know where to begin”

For a consultant I might explain to them that if they asked me to diagnose an illness in a patient using the patient’s notes and scan results then again I wouldn’t have a clue what I was doing.

The point is these people, claiming to be stupid etc actually aren’t at all; they just have different skills and knowledge and that is important, as without this the hospital simply wouldn’t be able to function.

We need people who have knowledge in IT.  We also need people with knowledge of the myriad of diseases and impairments that the human body can suffer.  We need people who know what is needed to keep the place clean and hygienic and we need people who can operate the complex clinical machinery that detects and scans and probes, seeking out causes.

That slogan up above?  I think it would be more accurate if it read “We are IT.  We are support.  We are one part of the NHS machine.”



Continuing Learning


I had a productive day yesterday.  In the morning I was visited by a doctor from Atos who was assessing me for my PIP claim.  I’ve been on indefinite DLA since 2005 and had the dreaded brown envelope telling me that was ending back in July and that I had to claim PIP from then on.

These assessments are generally negative and stressful, not only because the staff are either from Atos or Capita, who both have bad track records, but also because they focus on what you can’t do rather than what you can.

However, the lady who visited was lovely – warm and friendly and put me at ease within minutes.  The assessment went well I think, though I won’t know until I get the decision.

In the afternoon I visited Sheffield College.  Back in February I gained my level 1 certificate in BSL with Sense in Rotherham, but they don’t offer level 2.  I signed up at Sheffield and am looking forward to continuing to learn this fascinating language.  Like my first BSL tutor, the chap running this course is deaf and there will be no spoken language in class so this should be interesting.


The train journey to Sheffield was straightforward and on arrival I snapped this picture on my phone:


Which got a great response on Facebook.  I was surprised as it was just a snap and I couldn’t actually see properly when I took it as the sun was in my eyes.

The train journey back after registering at the college was eventful – I had to get off the train at Meadowhall, just one stop before Rotherham, because there was a train stuck at Rotherham with a passenger waiting for an ambulance.  This wasn’t a big issue as the next train to Rotherham arrived just a few minutes later so I was back on track.

It was nice to have had a day off work and to have managed to get stuff done without too many issues.

Review of 2012 and Looking Forward to 2013

January 1st saw the introduction of the new, secure, Blue badge.  On the 5th I appeared on BBC Look North (on behalf of Disabled Motoring UK) talking with Peter Levy about the changes and about enforcement of the scheme.  This involved getting to the studio in Leeds (somewhere I was already familiar with after my appearance on Radio Leeds in 2011).  I was mic’d up in the newsroom and positioned in front of a rack on wheels containing some equipment that looked like mixers, 2 small screens (one showing me and the other showing Peter in another studio) and on top of it all a camera and bright light, which managed to make the most of my shiny forehead!  The technician who had mic’d me up and made me comfortable appears in the clip as a hand in the background pretending to work.

January 8th saw the birth of my youngest Niece Phoebe, who I had in my arms within 30 minutes of her being born.  My memory is not great but I vividly remember that at home we had just sat down to a Sunday tea of chicken, rice and potato wedges when I got a call informing me that there had been complications during her birth and asking if I could get to the hospital.  When I arrived it turned out that Sarah, Phoebe’s Mum, was not well, though I never did find out the details of the problem.


In other news January saw me meeting Pan Aveyard, bag packing on my Birthday, the news that Mat Fleming was being put in for GCSE Maths 2 years early, Von’s car throwing a wobbly, Joe Fleming ending up in hospital with suspected broken ribs and my friend Liz Ellis speaking on BBC Radio Leeds.  I was also disappointed at not having been selected to be a torchbearer after being nominated and getting through the second round of selection, but found out that a distant cousin of mine (also a wheelchair user) was carrying the torch through Dewsbury which was cool.

February saw me at my first training session for the Olympics.  An orientation session hosted by Lord Coe and Eddie Izzard which was informative and entertaining.  This proved to be a challenge to get to as it was held at Wembley Arena and coincided with some of the worst snow seen in London, making a simple 10 mile journey take around 4 hours.  I was one of the lucky ones who managed to keep my car moving – I encountered rather a lot of BMW’s and Mercedes’ sliding and slithering around and unable to get up the hills, forcing everyone that could keep moving to have to weave among them.


One of the more positive aspects of that session was that it gave an idea of just exactly how many of us were involved, a chance to speak to some of them and provided a spark of excitement in anticipation of the Olympics.


February was the month of Grimsby YMCA’s annual Sleep Easy campaign and fundraising project.  I spent a night in Grimsby sleeping on the street with just some cardboard and lots of layers of clothing for comfort.  This was just one night and was incredibly difficult, I think at most I only actually slept for around 15 minutes and it was certainly an eye opener.


February also saw me start doing admin support in the fundraising office at Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale for 2 days/week.  This had come out of a conversation with my friend Sarah Firth who works there and (hopefully!) allowed the fundraisers and Sarah to be able to spend more time doing what they’re best at and less time doing admin tasks.  This also got me out of the house and interacting with people as well as improving my confidence at the realisation that I could still cope (after some 2/3 years away) with working in an office and be able to problem solve and from time to time even answer IT related questions.  This lasted right up to going away for the Olympics in June and the intention was to return to this after the Olympics, but life took a bit of a twist.

In other news for February, I took Libby to the library for the first time, something she loved and has enjoyed ever since, I attended my first (and last!) ever football match, watching Huddersfield Town get beaten by Sheffield Something on Valentines Day and I met and became friends with my “Brother from another Mother” Mark Winterbourne.


March came and brought with it fuel shortages and another bag pack for Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale.  At this session I was stationed by an exit of the supermarket with Amber, my friend Sarah Firth’s Daughter and we got talking about MS, what it is and how it happens etc and about the neurological system in general.  Something which Amber took in and later educated her Mum on.  That was deeply impressive to me and was an illustration of how much you can influence a child just by talking to them.


March was also the month Von passed her 3rd theory driving test which brought her another step closer to getting her license after so many years of being knocked back.

For me March also saw me at Stoke Mandeville stadium spending the weekend handcycling on track and out on the road with the guys and girls from the UK Handcycling Association.  This was a lot of fun but also a lot of hard work.

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In other news for March I managed to spill coffee on my beloved Kindle DX but also managed to strip it down and clean it all out and it survives to this day.  And I learned an important lesson when I failed to display my Blue badge whilst parked in Huddersfield and had to ask Kirklees Council to withdraw a parking ticket, something they agreed to do but weren’t obliged to do.

April was Gadget Show Live in Birmingham with Mat Fleming, this was pretty amazing and gave me a chance to drool over lots of lovely gadgets and then watch a live show featuring some amazing acts like Laserman and Addictive TV.

This was also the month I decided to trial Windows 8 on my laptop and then, shortly after installing it, wondered what I’d done.  I soon got used to it though and quickly grew to like it, despite the oft-complained about “split personality”.

April also saw the inaugural #CostaPosse meet up.  I have some amazing friends – Liz Ellis, Mark and Elaine Winterbourne and Sarah Firth and we decided to get together at Costa Coffee in Greengates, Bradford.  The main link between us all is Cancer but when we’re together we laugh and laugh and laugh.  More details of the #CostaPosse are in my post titled “Special Friends”.

This was a busy month for Libby too when she started Karate, graded to White belt and took part in her first tournament.

In other news I got my shifts for the Olympics and got a scare when Libby collapsed on the kitchen floor in front of me, which saw me panicking and frantically trying to get hold of Von and then calling an Ambulance.

May saw another training session for the Olympics which introduced me to my car, a BMW 320d ED, and also to radio communications and the associated protocols as well as a bit of customer service and road safety.  After these I was then allowed to get behind the wheel and after a bit of familiarisation with the car and navigation system headed out onto the streets of London for assessment with a driving examiner.  Thankfully I passed with full marks for safety and a few pointers such as checking the inside mirror when turning left for cyclists.

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May also saw me say goodbye to my beloved BlackBerry when I upgraded to my HTC One X Android phone, which was a massive leap over the BlackBerry in terms of functionality and ease of use.  This was very kindly set up for me by the ever-knowledgeable Pan Aveyard at his free social media and Android drop-in.

In June Joe Fleming managed to get a job with his first interview after leaving school.  He had printed off several copies of his CV and handed them out at various shops in Dewsbury and got an interview, turned up dressed smartly and got the job.

I battled my fear of heights when I got harnessed up and hooked to a wire to zip slide from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.  This was 750 feet from the bridge crossing the river to land on the bank at the other side and was done the day after Bear Grylls had taken the Olympic flame down the same line.  This was in aid of Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale and required my good friend Sarah Firth to firmly tell me I was doing it and had no choice after I got on the parapet of the bridge and then announced I couldn’t do it.  I did do it, am glad I did and will be doing it again.


June also brought another Olympic training session.  This time it was venue-specific and so I took me to the ExCel centre in London which was to be my base depot for sessions covering depot procedures, vehicle checks, checking in and out of car keys, radios and paperwork and health and safety around the depot.  There was also information around security and access to the depot and I was given a VAP to allow my own car to access the depot and was allocated a parking space.  For the rest of the day we hit the road to familiarise ourselves with the routes we would be using.  I had passengers in my car from the Metro newspaper who were writing a feature about the Transport team and in particular about the 2 disabled drivers based at our depot, being me and Graham Day.

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In other news Libby graded to Yellow belt in Karate and I collected my Olympic uniform.

July was a busy month, beginning with Von managing to fall while ice skating and doing herself some serious damage.  It initially looked as though she might have a spinal injury but a few hours later it turned out she’d broken her scaphoid, a small bone near the thumb.


The biggest news from July was Von passing her practical driving test, finally!  I was sat by Gatwick airport in London in my Olympic BMW when the message came through and I reckon the scream would probably have been heard in Yorkshire.

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And in July I started my Olympic driving duties.  My first shift, driving that car out of the depot and onto the streets “properly” made me feel proud, though nervous at what to expect.  Those nerves soon turned to boredom though when it transpired that demand for the service had been over-anticipated.  During one shift a bunch of us were sent up from the depot in the basement of ExCel into the main area and allowed to watch some of the sport.  I ended up watching some fencing which was fun.


After my first shift I headed from London straight to Birmingham where Jodi Picoult and her Daughter Samantha van Leer were doing a talk and book signing of their first co-authored book Between the Lines.  This was the second time I’d met Jodi and being in a lecture theatre the stage was down some steep stairs.  Jodi and Samantha came up to meet me and sign books and Jodi made a nice comment about my Olympic uniform.

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In July Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale held their annual Moonlight Walk event for ladies.  I volunteered to help and acted as “emergency” driver carrying first aider Aimee Vonstra-Edwards.  During this and whilst following the ladies one of them became exhausted and became a passenger.  I was trying to shout encouragement to the rest still taking part.  It was a very successful and enjoyable event and there was a great atmosphere.

Back to the Olympics, The Times newspaper did a feature on 3 of the Games Makers and I was one of them.  This involved an interview with one of their writers and a photoshoot session at Tower Bridge Studio, the first time I’ve had a professional photoshoot and the first time I’ve worn make up!  I was very impressed at the way the photos turned out though.

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In other news Libby made us proud with her SAT results and her acting as Nancy in the school production of Oliver and I confronted a man acting bizarrely on our street, parking his car and watching kids playing then driving round the corner, parking again, putting on a hat to cover his face and walking round the street.  That was also reported to the Police and thankfully he hasn’t appeared again.

August saw me in hospital after going to A&E in lots of pain and being admitted.  Not a great time but made better by visits from family and a surprise visit from the the #CostaPosse Sarah, Mark and Liz, who I understand had some fun of their own trying to find the ward and confusing the nurses.  High point of that stay and what made me laugh through the pain was being told by one of the nurses that I was “well equipped”.

September came and with it a new job, working as an IT contractor at Rotherham Hospital, I just can’t stay away from the places lol.  It was quite possibly very well timed though as I wasn’t in a good place mentally at the time

September also brought 2 thank you letters just days apart.  1 from Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale thanking me for my efforts over the few months I was there and 1 from David Cameron that was a thank you to all the Games Makers for their efforts during the Olympics.

CSBA Thank You Letter Edited PM Thank You Letter

And being September it was time for the DMUK Awards.  This was a fab and successful event with examples of great things being done by and for disabled people and showcased some wonderful achievements.  I was particularly pleased to be reunited with an old friend – a certain 1932 Argson mobility trike which has been restored by Twisted Mind Custom Motorcycles and also to meet and talk with Sue Marsh who, along with Kaliya Franklin, received the Denny Denly award in recognition of their work on producing the Spartacus report which forced the Government to rethink some of their welfare reforms.  Sue is a lovely lady who was so modest and it was great to meet her.


In other news, Libby successfully got through another Karate tournament and I was named as the first “champion” of the Great Yorkshire Stair Climb.

October was all about In the Pink.  My awesome friend Sarah who works at Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale had set herself a challenge to wear something Pink every day of October and to have at least 10 photos taken out in public places.  Now at first this might sound easy but when she mentioned about how it made her feel, really self-conscious and nervous, it becomes clear that it wasn’t quite that easy.  Sarah got donations of all sorts of items of clothing in Pink including wigs and even had a Pink car to use for the month.  Could she be any more conspicuous!  Sarah did an amazing job and pulled it off magnificently.


October also saw my first visit to Top Gear Live, which I loved and the full release of Windows 8 which, after having trialled it, I upgraded to whilst away in a hotel.

In November my friend Pan Aveyard finally managed to jump out of a plane.  This was supposed to have happened in July but the skydive people had to rearrange due to the weather, then it was supposed to be September but I had a job to go to so had to rearrange.  So it finally happened, on a cold but dry and clear day this brave (mad) man went up in a plane, which is bad enough, and then jumped out of it.  Thankfully he made it back to earth safely and in so doing raised lots of cash for Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale.  Respect.

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November held a challenge for me as well in the form of the Great Yorkshire Stairclimb.  This event involved climbing up the stairs inside Yorkshire’s tallest building, Bridgewater Place in Leeds.  There are 522 stairs and I believe I may be the only wheelchair user in the world to have completed such a challenge and am possibly the only wheelchair user ever to have been on the roof of this building.

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In a moment of fun November brought me my first ever taste of race car driving on a track.  Organised by ST Accessible Motorsport and using their race prepared Volvo S60 with 240bhp and which can be quickly adapted to be driven by people with a wide range of disabilities.  This was a huge amount of fun and after telling Von about it it sounds like she’ll be up for a go at a future session.

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November also saw me arranging my big challenge for 2013.  I signed up to take part in the Edinburgh 5K wheelchair race and the day after the Edinburgh marathon.  Then was told by the organisers that I wasn’t allowed to take part in the marathon as they don’t allow wheelchairs in.  There then followed almost a month of discussion while they tried to find a valid excuse for not allowing me to take part.  The details of that are in my post titled “The Challenge is to be Accepted for the Challenge”.

December started with Gadget Show Live @ Christmas at the ExCel centre and it sure was strange seeing it in civilian guise after having been based there during the Olympics.  The exhibition wasn’t as good as at Birmingham and was a lot smaller but the show was fab.

And December entailed getting ready for Christmas.  Decorating the house, wrapping gifts and writing cards.  Catching up with friends and family.

I was also asked by Dilwyn Price to be best man at his wedding to my Mum in May next year which was a shock but in a nice way.

We spent Christmas Day at my Mum’s in Wales which was nice and relaxing and made it more enjoyable than usual.

Looking forward to 2013….

2013 already has a challenge arranged in the form of the Edinburgh wheelchair race and marathon and I will be starting training for that shortly and starting on a diet too.  May is going to be a busy month with my Mum’s wedding on the 4th in Wales, the DMUK AGM in Glasgow on the 18th and the Edinburgh events on the 25th and 26th.

Turning the Tables – Employing Disabled People

This post on the Same Difference blog prompted some thoughts on the subject of employing disabled people.  It can be nerve wracking for anyone going through the whole job hunting process – updating your CV, applying for a job, writing the perfect cover letter and then, if you’re lucky, going to an interview.

For a person with a disability this can be even more worrying.  Not only are you in competition with the other applicants, you must also get past any prejudices and worries and pre-conceived ideas that the potential employer may have.  The employer may believe for example that a disabled person is likely to take lots of time off because of illness or for medical appointments.  If the role applied for is customer facing the employer may worry about what customers will think.

There are many other ideas that may, in the employers mind, put up barriers to employing the disabled person.  It may seem to be the easier option to employ an able-bodied person instead, even if their skills or experience are less than the disabled person.

Preparing for the interview is key to dealing with this.  Of course, it is always important to prepare for an interview.  Research the company or organisation, find out all you can about them, be prepared to answer questions about them – the employer will be looking for someone who has taken an interest.  In addition have some questions ready to fire back.  Has the company recently won a large contract or opened new premises?  Are they doing something new or interesting?  Mention it and probe into the details.  Not only does this show you have done some research and are interested but it also turns the interview into a 2-way conversation rather than a question and answer session.

That is standard interview preparation advice.  For the disabled person you could also prepare some information about your disability.  You don’t need to give your entire medical history but letting the employer know what effects your disability has on your day-to-day life and what adjustments might be needed in order for you to be effective in the role can be useful and gives you the chance to present your disability in a positive way and counter any doubts that the employer might have.

Let’s take a look at one of the most common worries employers have about taking on disabled staff, and some of the positive arguments:

“Disabled people need lots of time off, this costs money”

Sure, disabled people may need time off from time to time.  Sometimes we have  appointments for assessments, treatments and regular check ups.  But this also applies to able-bodied people.
Some people see disabled people as being ill simply because they have a disability.  This is quite common but untrue.  We do get ill, but we are not ill constantly.
Disabled people are more likely to come to work even if they are ill.  There can be a feeling that we have to work harder and better than our able-bodied colleagues in order to prove ourselves.
Following on from the above, disabled people are less likely to take time off for common problems that see able-bodied people staying at home.  Because we’re often used to pain, side effects of medications and struggling with every day tasks we are able to cope with back pain, headaches, feelings of nausea etc.

See how the negative can be turned around?  If nothing else, see the interview as a chance to educate and maybe, just maybe, change someone’s view.

UNISON Disabled Members Conference 2009

UNISON Disabled Members Conference 2009

Daniel Anderson-McIntyre

I attended the national Disabled Members Conference of
UNISON in Blackpool over the long weekend of October 31st to
November 2nd.

As a 1st time Delegate to Conference things were
a little bewildering at first.
Thankfully I soon met a lady by the name of Fiona Heneghan, a Disability
Officer from Surrey County Council.
Fiona guided me through Conference procedures and helped make sure I was
in the right place at the right time.

Whilst at Conference I also met Dan Anderson and his wife Wendy
who both use BSL, so I had a chance to practise ready for my upcoming exam and
had some interesting conversations with them both.

One of the most bewildering things about Conference was the
hotel lobby during breaks and social times.
I have never seen so many people using wheelchairs, scooters,
powerchairs, crutches, walking sticks, BSL, hearing aids and PAs in one place
before.  It was nice to go from the
office or street environment. where I might be the only wheelchair user in
sight, to being just one of the crowd.
Everyone was friendly and helpful and the hotel staff were absolute

Conference was also attended by Dave Prentis (General
Secretary, UNISON) and Jonathan Shaw (Minister for Disabled People).

Dave gave an address detailing UNISON’s vision of a future
in which disabled workers were afforded the same levels of respect as their
non-disabled colleagues and also spoke about UNISON’s current “One Million
Voices” campaign.

Jonathan spoke about the Government’s current position on
disability working rights, including Disability Leave.  There then followed a lengthy Q and A session
during which he took questions from Conference and attempted to answer them.

On the last day of Conference one of the agenda items was a
motion on Disability Leave, which was something I had spoken to Fiona, Wendy
and Dan about several times during the weekend.
Fiona encouraged me to address Conference, which I did.

I spoke about how people working in organisations that did
not recognise Disability Leave as separate from Sickness Leave were being
disadvantaged in comparison to their non-disabled colleagues.  Many people working in these organisations
are being taken down Capability process routes by their HR departments simply
because they have racked up more sick days than their non-disabled colleagues.

This address was met with rapturous applause and afterwards,
during a break, I was approached by several people, all eager to tell me of
their experiences.  One of these people
was Jean Sowley (Regional Chair Disabled Members and National Co-Chair Disabled
Members) who told me that what I had spoken about was by no means uncommon and
asked me to become more active within the union.

On the last evening there was a social event which lasted
well into the next morning!  I have never
before seen a group of BSL interpreters signing karaoke.  That’s not a typo!  Signing.
In perfect synchronicity.  Dancing
wheelchairs (NOT ballroom!), lots of beer and a great atmosphere as well as
good company and a lot of laughs all made for a great night.

The weekend was certainly an experience and I have made
several new friends.  I look forward to
returning next year!

Employer Attitudes Towards Disabled Employees

Attitudes Towards Physical and Mental Impairment in the Modern Office Environment

In 2006, at the age of 29, I became disabled. This wasn’t just an overnight thing but was gradual over several months and I believe, looking back, had been
going on for a number of years beforehand.

My disability consists of a mental illness, known as Conversion Disorder, which causes me several physical and mental disabilities. I have difficulty for example with walking, often using my wheelchair or crutches to get around. Among the more “invisible” problems are my poor memory and lack of ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

I have been working in 1st line IT Support now for around 11 years and in 2006 was employed in the private sector by a large multinational food company. I went from walking normally one week in the office, albeit with some stumbling and falling, to walking with a stick and then, after trying to avoid it for some weeks, using my wheelchair to get around full time.

The first time I entered the office in my ‘chair I was extremely nervous and wondered what my colleague’s reactions might be. I needn’t have
worried – the ‘chair was simply accepted and didn’t seem to phase anyone or provoke any unwanted attention.

For their part my employer contacted my GP for info on how best they could accommodate me and any changes they may need
to implement in my work or working environment. They also arranged an independent Occupational Therapy Assessment, again so that they could find out
how best to help me continue in my work.

My GP advised that I should avoid stressful situations which meant that my workload was reduced and at one point it was suggested that I could work in the company mail room which I found quite upsetting and which never came to pass. Other items that came out of these assessments were that a different keyboard/mouse might be useful as I often have problems gripping a mouse, so I use a touchpad instead.

Every suggestion that came back was run past me and if I agreed it was implemented – the company even decided to give me every Tuesday off to visit a support group but kept me on full pay and paid for taxis to and from work when I couldn’t drive. Nothing, it seemed, was too much trouble. Being new to disability I was completely unaware of the DDA and would never have dreamed of asking for any of the adjustments they made, even though they did help enormously. My view was that my problems were my problems and I had to deal with them.

That employment ended with redundancy when the company decided to outsource IT to a third party. We were transferred under TUPE rules to become employees of that third party who announced that they wanted us to relocate to Milton Keynes and admitted that the two office buildings they had there were both inaccessible to wheelchair users. So the only option for me was redundancy.

So now, faced with unemployment and still coming to terms with my newly acquired disability, I was forced to start searching for work. Cue much sending of CVs to various agencies and jobsearch websites. Most of the jobs I were applying for I was more than qualified for but it seemed that no-one was even interested in inviting me for interview. The only interviews I was getting were from the “two ticks” organisations – public bodies who had the “Positive About Disabled People” symbol on their forms and the guaranteed interview organisations.

A lot of these very blatantly were simply going through the motions and doing what they were required to do. Then there was an interview
in Leeds. Again I turned up, dressed as smart as I could (shirt and tie – jackets don’t go well with wheelchairs) and ready for yet another
disappointment. The interview itself I felt went badly and I left thinking I would never hear from them again.

Two days later I got a call from that organisations HR department asking why I hadn’t mentioned the fact that I was
disabled on the application form. I had completely missed the entire Equality section of the long form and had therefore gotten through to the interview on my
own merits! It transpired that they were offering me the job but needed me to complete the form first. I hastily completed the form and emailed it back to
them. I was offered the job and accepted straight away.

Being a public sector organisation there are a lot of things that need to be done it seems when a disabled person is employed. I was invited to visit the office for a day to assess whether I could get around and what adaptations might need to be put in place. It was decided that a powered door opener on the main entrance and my own parking space in the garage under the building were needed. Again I couldn’t have asked for this and the parking space, in Leeds centre, is worth its weight in gold!

So, adaptations in place and I was working again. Then my line manager took maternity leave and problems started. Another manager was appointed
to my team and his attitude and knowledge seemed to be based around 50 years in the past. I was made to feel unreliable, useless and a burden to the rest of the team everytime I had a hospital or doctor appointment, or one of the kids or my partner were ill. He would pick apart the work I had done each day looking for mistakes and making it known when he felt he had found the slightest thing wrong. It seemed nothing I could do was good enough, even when I was working longer hours and doing more work than the rest of the team.

The final straw came when I was excluded from a briefing session being held in London. I asked why I had been excluded and was told by this manager that it was felt that my mobility problems and family commitments would make it difficult for me to attend. I pointed out that I could deal with my mobility problems myself and was used to life being difficult. I wasn’t excluded again.

I think that becoming disabled has given me a unique viewpoint on life and on working life in particular. It has been a real eye opener to a whole world of which I knew nothing previously and has shown that in some people old fashioned attitudes towards disabled people are still rife, but also that there are good employers and people out there who will bend over backwards to accommodate disabled people.

The trick is to find them…..