I run a specialist online job board for disabled jobseekers (www.evenbreak.co.uk) and as well as encouraging employers to consider employing disabled people, I like to practise what I promote.
I’d like to introduce you to Lewis. Lewis is 16 and has ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so severely that he has been unable to attend school for the past six years. His conditions mean that even home-schooling was restricted to four hours a week spread over the week, and he would become exhausted after each half hour lesson. As a result, at the age of 16, he had no GCSEs and no work experience, was unable to go out to work, and even working from home would only be able to work for a few hours a week, spread out throughout the week. His careers counsellor told him he would find it very difficult to find work, but he could always get a sick note. He had been effectively written off, at sixteen.
However, Lewis is also very bright and has a huge desire to contribute as much as he can. Despite his physical limitations he was determined not to spend the rest of his days as an invalid. He is continuing with his education, recently achieving great results in an English exam. He is good with computers, conscientious, has great attention to detail and would be a loyal employee. But what could he do?
Thankfully, he heard about Evenbreak, and a discussion ensued. As we talked, I was wracking my brains trying to think of what kind of work Lewis could do, and quickly realised that he could be really helpful to me! Much of my time is spent doing data entry work (inputting jobs onto the Evenbreak job board), which is vital, but time-consuming. It would make a huge difference to me if someone could do that for me, leaving me to do all the other things I also need to do.
Lewis was interested, and I trained him remotely over the ‘phone using our computers (our respective disabilities make it difficult for either of us to travel). It immediately became apparent that Lewis was keen, and picked things up quickly. I offered him the role of Data Entry Clerk, at a decent hourly rate, and he immediately accepted.
We have both learned as we have gone along, and we find that Lewis finds it easier to concentrate for short periods of time, so will work for no longer than half an hour at one sitting, spreading his hours over the week. Since his appointment in April this year, Lewis has proved to be excellent. His accuracy has always been spot on, and his speed has picked up as he has gained confidence and got used to the role. I know he is doing as much as he is physically able and he always keeps me informed with progress, doing overtime when he is able to. He is a real asset to Evenbreak, and employing him was definitely one of my better decisions.
I asked Lewis’ permission to write this blog about him, and how he felt about his work at Evenbreak. He said, “I had previously worried whether I would ever be able to work – that no-one would employ me with all my health problems. Now I feel proud that I am doing such an important job, and feel much more confident than I used to. The job is flexible and I can work from home around my health issues. I feel happy and it has given me hope!”
I recognise that Lewis is destined for bigger and better things in the future, but in the meantime I’m very much enjoying him being such an important part of the Evenbreak team.