Tag Archive | Disability

MIDLANDSABILITY

“Improving workplace opportunity for those with disabilities”

Once upon a time, a long time ago, two friends and colleagues came up with a great idea.

Although our idea was great, we don’t take credit for the original concept as our lightbulb moment was actually based on an organisation already in existence but only accessible to people living and or working in London. That organisation is WHARFABILITY.

“WharfAbility is a network of networks founded in 2012 by a group of individuals involved with the disability and carer agenda within major firms based in Canary Wharf.  Our mission is to connect businesses and colleagues to share experiences and ideas, enabling them to increase their impact in the work place. We have grown substantially over the past 3 years and now have 27 member organisations, principally from Canary Wharf but also from London generally.”

Our brilliant idea was to replicate the Wharfability network in the Midlands and so the journey began.

My colleague and long-time friend Richard Day has been the driving force behind creating this network as, pretty soon after attending some initial meetings with interested parties, I changed my role at work and began working from home. Reluctantly I bowed out but was more than confident that Richard would take this forward to its conclusion.

Richard and Linzi

Over the past three years, Richard has worked with a number of people also passionate about creating this network. Lorna Gavin; Kate Nash OBE; Graeme Whippey MBE; Karl Edge; Tracey Wright and Becky Brooks to name but a few. The culmination of this collective passion and hard work was the launch of Midlandsability yesterday.

The event was overwhelmingly successful and a testament to everyone’s determination to see this project come to fruition. Everyone involved should be very proud of themselves and everyone else should be very proud of them. I know I am.

Amongst the guests and inspirational speakers were Kate Nash OBE who interviewed the brand-new straight out of the box Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton; Graeme Whippy MBE from Channel 4; John Coxon from Disability Confident with the very funny, perceptive and down-to-earth Becky Brooks keeping everyone in line and on time.

Sarah Newton MP and Kate Nash OBE

It was a fabulous event hosted by KPMG in Birmingham and I am looking forward to joining this group on their future journey improving workplace opportunity for those with disabilities.

Well done everyone!

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The Spoon Theory

The Spoon Theory

When I read this article this morning I cried. Not because I was sad or upset but with relief because I may have found a way to describe how I feel to someone who looks at me and thinks I look OK. Someone who thinks that all my moans and groans about being tired, exhausted, and wiped out to the point of collapse and tears of frustration and pain are fiction. That’s the problem with an invisible illness. You look fine but underneath you are fighting to stay as normal as possible with every ounce of energy you have. If I could only find a way to explain that feeling, I would feel better. People would maybe understand and not judge. A little empathy and genuine concern costs nothing but you would think it costs the earth for its paucity.

I face any number of battles every morning before I go out of the house. I often use all my spoons before I get to work, and then I’m in deficit; running on empty whilst all the time destroying my engine. You can run on empty for a while. We all know that there is always something in reserve from what the car manufacturers tell you. Unfortunately when your body says enough is enough it’s usually time to wave the white flag and retire to bed for a while. Rest and recovery is vital in managing chronic fatigue syndrome and I spend most of my weekends in bed, either resting or asleep, just catching up from the week’s exertion. What a waste of time.

I hope that you will read about the Spoon Theory and imagine how it would impact you and your daily routine. It is the closest explanation I have seen for normally healthy people to start to understand what it is like to have depleted energy resources and reserves. I used to take my high energy for granted; Sport, competition, manic activity and multi-tasking were key skills of mine and I thrived on it. Now, I have to manage my energy supply. I only have so many spoons.

 

Diversity Week

KPMG Diversity Week

KPMG Diversity Week

This week is the KPMG Diversity week, 5 days celebrating diversity in the workplace. We have a number of diverse groups within the firm ranging from the religous, Jewish, Islamic and Christian societies, our LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender society called “Breathe”, KNOW, the “women’s” group which focuses on issues particularly facing women in the workplace and sponsored by a senior male Partner along with groups providing specific support for parents, disabled staff, working dads and those promoting a healthy work-life balance.

Today I hijacked the lunchtime session as, being Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, I felt that it should be the focus of our day today.

We had a lovely time talking to several people about mental health and hopefully encouraged a few more to talk openly and honestly about mental health issues.

Richard is our Workability facilitator in Birmingham and he is on a mission to promote diversity and disability awareness in our office.

We need people like Richard to fly our flag!

Thank you.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011

We are fast approaching International Day of Persons with Disabilities recognised each year on December 3rd. The 2011 theme?

“Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”

A great committment for sure but I prefer something a bit more simple and closer to home so for 3rd December 2011 I am going to pull together some inspiring stories and artwork (photos, paintings, crafts, musings) from some very talented people who suffer with mental illness and collate them in a celebration of our combined and extensive ABILITY.

This is assuming of course that we think that depression and other forms of mental illness are disabilities and we consider ourselves disabled.  It would seem that the majority of people surveyed in research carried out by the Depression Alliance and RADAR during 2009/10 thought that depression is a disability and are prepared to badge themselves as disabled in order to tap into a number of resources only available to the disabled community.

And what do I hope to achieve by showcasing this talent produced by the “mentally disabled?”

  • Mental illness should not be a barrier to achievement and success.
  • With encouragement and support we can live normal lives and recover to hold down jobs, look after our families and enjoy ourselves.
  • We are resilient and loyal
  • We are exceptionally talented and we should exhibit this talent freely.

I know lots and lots of very talented people across all spheres who have mental illness of one type or another so I may have to dedicate all my posts during December to this cause. I will enjoy doing that and I will be in touch with you soon…….

Big Ben on a winter evening - Drawings - Gallery

Big Ben on a winter’s evening-by Stephen Wiltshire