What work means to you
17 November 2015
by Cat Kilkenny
For some people work means early mornings and the constant buzz of email notifications. For me it means self-sufficiency and picking up new skills.
We asked our supporters which words come to mind when they think of work.
The most common association people made with work was independence.
As someone with a disability, work has definitely allowed me to gain economic independence and build towards a secure financial future.
However, it has not always been easy to make sure that I get the support I need from employers to do my job to the best of my ability.
This is reflected by two other common answers from our survey: challenge and discrimination.
As I am partially deaf, I often fall back on lip-reading to communicate.
Many colleagues at I have worked with at former workplaces had never met a hearing impaired person before so do not always know how to respond appropriately.
For example, I have had to explain countless times why speaking slowly and exaggerating mouth shapes not only stops me from lip-reading but is also incredibly patronising.
I also know first-hand that being supported at work can be extremely beneficial to my personal well-being.
It’s important that employers understand the impact that their attitudes and actions have on disabled people’s experiences of work.
That’s why working with employers must form a central plank of the government’s pledge to support an extra million disabled people into work over the next five years.
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which is currently being considered by parliament, is the ideal opportunity to make that commitment.
We’ll be talking to the government over the next couple of months to make sure that the bill is as much about helping people to work, as it is about welfare reform.
Committing to working in partnership with disabled people to overcome challenges in the workplace benefits everyone.
It leads to higher achievement at work and happier employees, as well as contributing to the economy.
A future in which disabled people have the support we need to work is a future which is better for everyone.
Cat Kilkenny is a policy and research officer at Leonard Cheshire Disability