When Nichola Pinder had her baby daughter Jasmine in 2012 she struggled to lift her out of her cot. She had battled back problems over the years and was diagnosed with reactive arthritis after Jasmine's birth. Not only was lifting her daughter excruciatingly painful, but Nichola was afraid the activity would make her disabilities worse.
Nichola decided to come up with a solution to the issues she was facing so in between feeds she started carrying out some market research with a view to designing a new type of cot that would alleviate difficulties for those with back problems.
Having applied for a start up loan and business mentor Nichola was ready to have her product manufactured. The result - called Swingate Cot - a simple but very effective design with the cot opening with a gate like action, it aims to save parents stooping and bending which often puts a strain on the back.
Nichola is a brilliant example of someone who has not let her disabilities dictate her life. She refuses to be marginalised. Her story is particular inspiring in a modern climate where many disabled still feel demoralised. A new survey reveals that many of the UK's disabled feel they are discriminated against in the work place with one in five feeling unsupported and treated differently.
Furthermore, the research by law firm Leigh Day indicates that many are reluctant to disclose their disability on job applications.
"Disabled people are pushing hard to find jobs and get on at work, but they continue to face huge barriers," said Anna Bird, Group Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at disability charity Scope.
"We know that the attitudes of employers are absolutely crucial in ensuring that disabled employees succeed and progress in the workplace.
"Yet all too often, disabled people tell us that they face negative attitudes at interview, or when in their role."
According to the government's Department of Work and Pensions, in 2012 just over forty per cent of working-age disabled people were in employment compared to around 76 per cent of those without disabilities. Broken down further, these statistics indicate that around two million disabled people could be working but are not. It all makes rather gloomy reading but there is a silver lining. Over the last two years the Start Up Loans team have seen a stream of people with disabilities reaping the rewards of entrepreneurship. We would be delighted to see that number increase. Indeed, we celebrate diversity and see it as a key advantage of the scheme.
Still need inspiration? Look no further than Start Up Loans recipient Jem Finch, 23, of Cambridge who triumphed over his disabilities in a truly courageous way. Jem was just 18 and taking an apprenticeship in electrical engineering when a horrific car accident changed his life forever. He was in hospital for almost six months and left in a wheelchair making it impossible to work as an electrician. Jem knew he had to totally reappraise his options and pursue an entirely different career plan. Two years ago he applied for a start up loan via our delivery partner The Prince's Trust. He also took an intensive IT course and then went about setting up his own business, Jem's Computer Repair Services.
Jem's story, and many more besides, prove that if you have enough faith in yourself and your potential even the toughest obstacles need not stand in the way.