Finding suitable employment can be challenging for everyone. However, people affected by disabilities face additional hurdles that they must overcome to reach their desired vocational goals. These barriers will differ from person to person and can be wide ranging and complex, particularly for people affected by a condition such as MS, where symptoms can fluctuate.
The charity Disability Rights UK have developed an in-depth factsheet titled careers and work for disabled people, which includes how to find disability-friendly employers, access employment programmes such as the Intensive Personalised Employment Support government scheme, apprenticeships and self-employment. This guide offers a wealth of information and signposting to assist disabled job seekers.
Disability Rights UK has also produced a useful guide called Doing Careers Differently which looks at the issues facing disabled jobseekers and details real-life stories of people affected by disability and their vocational journeys.
Freelancing and self-employment
Being self-employed or freelancing has its positives and negatives in a general sense, however, these become more amplified for people affected by a disability. On the plus side, being your own boss offers you the flexibility to manage your workload and build a schedule that accommodates your needs. That flexibility extends to taking time off, and having breaks and rests during the times that you need them. The more challenging elements of being your own boss can include not receiving sick pay and additional benefits such as paid time off for hospital appointments, company pensions and paid maternity/paternity leave. However, with appropriate advice, support and planning being your own boss and managing the many challenges that can be associated with disability can be workable.
The not-for-profit organisation the association of Independent Professionals and the Self-employed (IPSE) have produced an informative guide for people affected by disability who work on a freelance or self-employed basis.
For those interested in starting their own business, or who are simply looking for financial support with their current venture, you may find this comprehensive list of grants available around the UK, provided by the organisation Small Business UK, helpful.
Support to find employment
In addition to the organisations listed in Section 10 of the careers and work for disabled people factsheet, there are other organisations whose goal is to support and enable people affected by disabilities to find employment. They range from small charities or localised groups focused on helping those who live within specific localities, to ones that cover a wider geographical area.
Examples of more localised support
- Action on Disability – West London
- Enable – Shropshire
- Disability Sheffield – South Yorkshire
- Glasgow Disability Alliance – Lanarkshire
There are similar localised support services scattered around the UK. If you would like help in finding those close to you, or indeed in any location of interest, please contact the MS-UK Helpline who will be happy to assist.
Organisations that cover a wider area
- Pluss – Provide various employment programmes on behalf of the DWP and local authorities around the UK
- Remploy – Branches in various parts of the UK
- Evenbreak – They are a recruitment specialist whose aim is to help disabled job candidates find employers that embrace inclusivity
Some organisations support disabled graduates on their initial post-graduation career path. They work with employers to further their understanding of the challenges disabled employees may face and help disabled graduates find appropriate employment with disability friendly companies.
The charity Turn2us has produced a comprehensive summary of resources that list the different back to work support schemes available all around the UK. This resource is particularly handy as it also includes information on how to obtain financial support such as grants and help with travel costs. Furthermore, it highlights the support that is specific to each nation within the UK, as it can vary.