"I gave you this job to try and help you", said one of my previous employers. These words hit me hard and I felt extremely patronised and saddened. The fact that, as a disabled person, I should have only been given a job out of pity, not based on my ability, goes to the heart of the problem. This is one of many experiences that I have had in the last six years in trying to find permanent employment and it has taught me that in Britain today it still seems okay to be as ignorant as bliss when it to comes the subject of disability. I do everything in my power to change my circumstances; regular job searches, attend countless job interviews every year and courses run by the Job Centre, as well as volunteer work. However, none of these routes have led to destination employment. And I know that am not alone in this situation, as statistics published in the Labour Force Survey in November 2016, stated that 80% of non-disabled people are in work, comparison to just 48% of disabled people.
When, finally, a disabled person gets into employment, the support is often lacking or absent. Because of this, both the employer and employee may find it difficult to form a successful partnership. This is something I have experienced myself on several occasions over the years. I managed, through Enable, to land a job doing five hours shifts over two days, with extra shifts where necessary. However, things soon began to change. My hours were cut, my duties restricted and I was not even invited to staff social events. When I asked my employer about doing some extra hours over the summer months the situation deteriorated. I was told I could not do the same amount of work in comparison to colleagues and when I was to do a task well I was immediately stopped from doing it, rather than given the opportunity to be shown or to be trained and supported so I could do task to the best my ability. I was made to feel unconformable and left out. Some people might see this as constructive dismissal. In the end I felt I had no choice but to leave.
It is so important that training and support are be in place, both for employer and the employee, so that they can form a successful partnership. According to the charity, Scope, 85% of disabled people believe that employers' attitudes have not improved since 2012. I could not agree more with this statement. I feel I am holding up my part of the bargain but that the government are not holding up theirs. By cutting ESA in the absence of a robust and comprehensive support structure, they are not encouraging disabled people into work, they are encouraging them into a situation that neither they nor the employer are prepared for. This is preparing for failure.
The government talk of motivating disabled people. The Oxford English dictionary defines 'motivation' as, 'the reasons why somebody does something or behaves in a particular way'. The reason I seek employment is that I want to feel that I can contribute to society. I have many friends with disabilities who are motivated by the same goal. It's not me or my friends who lack motivation but the government in their inability to provide practical support.