This week we are introduced to two new people from the job group and I find myself growing increasingly annoyed at the way some of the organisations behave in this episode.
Just because I’m visually impaired doesn’t mean I’m not capable of thinking for myself.
This week the focus is on Marve, who is visually impaired as a result of congenital glaucoma and cataracts, and Nicola who has cerebral palsy.
Nicola has a first class honours degree in multi-media journalism and is desperate for a full-time job. Whilst she has strong support from her family, it is quite clear that the constant rejection from jobs is taking its toll. Nicola’s self-esteem comes through quite low throughout the episode and, really, whose wouldn’t be after being treated the way so many organisations have treated her. Her self-deprecating humour is hard to listen to sometimes because it is a familiar coping mechanism for me.
I’ve got more wheatbags than a wheatbag factory.
Marve’s self-esteem is equally shaky, having been made redundant six years previously from his position as a support worker. With his first child on the way, Marve’s passion for work to provide a good example for his son has returned but he is also battling years of rejection.
I think this is one thing that could do with being explored further throughout this series and that is the enormous impact to your mental health that being rejected from the working world leads to. I began to experience suicidal ideations when I was unemployed for nearly a year and whilst the low mood and the impact on motivation is discussed, it’s sometimes still couched as an issue for the individual to overcome. A pep talk isn’t going to help someone overcome difficulties with mental health.
Even when the discussion is around asking for reasonable accommodations, with a focus on the fact that Nicola really struggles to do this, the onus remains on the individual to request them. I get that sometimes you have to stand up and ask for what you need but I do think that organisations could do more to help people with this process and make it easier.
I get incredibly annoyed at the way Marve is treated by the organisations in this episode. The way the manager from Age UK speaks about him is awful – moreso arguably because of the profession he is in. It’s patronising and uncalled for. Then when he goes to Doncaster Council his lack of invitation to interview is blamed on his poor application and specifically interpreting their language literally instead of “reading between the lines”. They send him on a trial day (both Marve and Nicola get a lot of these – more than a non-disabled person would get sent on I’m sure) and afterwards gets patronised some more when the staff basically say that now he’s done the “work experience” he’s in a far better position to apply for jobs with them and he’s reminded of his “failings” in his initial application. It’s a figurative pat on the head where they do not commit to inviting him to interview for anything.
Both Marve and Nicola come across as likeable, articulate and hard-working people and it would have been good to see more focus on what organisations should be doing to make employment accessible for them instead of keeping it all on the things that they have to do day after day to get into work themselves. They deserve more.
You know what, I am different, my needs are different and that’s okay.