For the past 6 weeks I have been very fortunate with being giving the opportunity to carry out work experience at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and the Trailblazers. When I say fortunate I not only mean fortunate for the opportunity but also to work with amongst some amazing people.
Having left university almost 6 years ago with a BSc Honours and a Masters, I was hopeful to be in full time employment fairly quickly. What I didn’t realise is that I was up against the stigma attached to people with disabilities and employment. However the stigma was more on my part then anyone else’s. I have Cerebral Palsy which affects my speech and I need a wheelchair. Alongside this I have very severe movements which can be very noticeable at times. The fact that I am unable to feed or care for myself means that I rely on a PA to be with me at all times so when you add all of this up I can’t help but feel you get quite a big package to deal with.
Growing up, I always was asked the question “Will you be working from home?” and have had people assuming that I could only work with other people with disabilities. This made me want to go against the grain and show people that I could work in an office in a big industry. However after trying to put together an online portfolio of my work which itself took longer the expected, my confidence with regards to working for a company or business took a big knock. So what is next? I decided to start my own business.
Coming from a creative background I was always comfortable with design and digital media production but when it came to selling myself or my business there was never any wind beneath my wings. I spent years trying to recreate my image and doing free jobs for friends and family but never earning any money which is something that I have been chasing all my life. It was this time I came to learn about the charity SpecialEffect for which I am now an Ambassador. I took this opportunity to do a few projects for them with the hope I could get noticed and get a few paid gigs. Sadly this was never the case.
Fast forward a few years and we get to the beginning of 2014 where the quest to earn a living has been a contributing factor to my depression. It was at this point when I decided that I would need to change tactics with regards to my mindset in looking for work.
As cheesy as it sounds, hope came in the form of an email from the Trailblazers team who mentioned that they had work experience opportunities, and that was an opportunity that I needed to take. I believed that if I was to ever have the confidence of working in an office with other people then this was the best place to start. I wasn’t wrong.
Going to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign offices for the first time was a very nerve-racking experience for me but once I met the team on my taster day I was instantly relieved. Meeting Tanvi from Trailblazers and Peter from Campaigns and Policies made me feel instantly welcome to the office and by the end of the day I had forgotten about my worries of being loud with my speech.
In the last 6 weeks I have been given the opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to hopefully help other people with disabilities. Working alongside Tanvi, Matilda and Maddy for the first 2 weeks within the Trailblazers team gave me the confidence to believe in myself and my writing. This was the same for when I was working alongside Peter, who gave me the encouragement to speak about my experiences as opposed to sugar coating them. This is why I have been prolific in my blogs to you guys and girls on topics about, uni, transport, dating, the cinema, gaming with a disability and PIP, to name but a few.
I have now gained the self belief and confidence to apply for opportunities at other organisations and charities, and I owe this to my work experience thanks to the Trailblazers.