Disabled people with extraordinary talents succeed and contribute to the world economy every day.
Imagine the world of science without Stephen Hawking.
The Olympics without Tanni Grey Thompson.
And the horrendous thought of television without Stephen Fry.
Many unemployed people with health challenges and disabilities face complex barriers that they must overcome to be successful in their search for work. But for many people with disabilities, the main thing they have in common with these heroes, is a strength of character and determination to succeed.
Not everyone is a genius, but a great many people can be extraordinary and I strongly believe that with the right support, many more people with disabilities can secure work, making a valuable contribution to society and leading a fulfilling life for themselves.
So what is the right kind of assistance? And what lessons can the government learn as it considers the future of employability support for these people?
As someone who works everyday to enable those who want to find work in spite of disability, I want to share a few thoughts from my experience.
Very few people with disabilities will have straightforward barriers to employment.
A disability, health issue or the experience of long term unemployment might, for example, have an additional impact on mental health or self-esteem.
Addressing one barrier on its own is pointless and counterproductive if the individual is then knocked back by another.
Support therefore should be holistic.
It should seeks to simultaneously address all the factors impacting on a customer’s ability to gain work.
Lastly then, our own work and that of other providers shows time and time again that the more empowered a person is over their own support, the greater the likelihood of success.