A woman from South Yorkshire who has been blind since birth is urging more employers to give disabled people the chance to work, following her own two-year struggle to find a job.
Eleanor Pooley, who lives just outside Doncaster, applied for dozens of jobs and had numerous unsuccessful interviews before finally landing her current role as a quality co-ordinator in a Rotherham contact centre run by Webhelp.
That was in July 2012 and today Eleanor is thriving in her busy role. But recalling the frustration of trying to find work, she said: “Unfortunately, some employers don’t look beyond a person’s disability. I honestly believe that I was overlooked for many of the jobs I applied for simply because I am blind. In fact, I’ve been to interviews where I’ve known from the start that the interviewer was just going through the motions.”
Eleanor received help with her job search from Remploy, the leading provider of specialist employment services for disabled and disadvantaged people. The organisation’s Sheffield branch provided her with tailored support, including confidence building, help creating a standout CV and interview preparation.
“Unemployment badly dented my self-confidence but my Remploy employment advisor, Sally Cook, convinced me that, with support, I would get a job. Eventually – and to my great relief – I did,” said Eleanor.As well as helping Eleanor with her job searching, Remploy also arranged for her travel to and from work to be paid for through the Government’s Access to Work scheme, which provides funding to help disabled people find and stay in work. The same scheme was used to fund text-to-speech software and braille display, both of which are essential tools for Eleanor to do her job effectively.
“Access to Work pays for practical support, such as the workplace adjustments that have made such a difference for Eleanor,” said Remploy’s Sally Cook. “It has the potential to significantly boost the number of disabled people in work.”
Now into her third year at Webhelp, Eleanor’s positive approach has made her popular with colleagues. “Eleanor has been an integral part of the team from the start and continues to build team spirit and communication every day,” said her manager Carmen Davis.
“Having a job has given me a purpose in life and a reason to get up every day,” added Eleanor. "When you are out of work you don’t feel part of anything. But now I have a role that gives me job satisfaction and has helped my personal development.
“I sincerely hope that more employers realise the benefits of having a diverse workforce and give disabled people the same opportunity to work and grow in a job that Webhelp has given me.”
Picture caption: Eleanor Pooley, seated, with guide dog Gwenda and Remploy employment advisor Sally Cook
For further information and interview requests, please contact Remploy press office: 0300 456 8121
Notes to editors:
- In the last five years Remploy has found more than 80,000 jobs in mainstream employment for people with a range of physical, sensory and mental disabilities and other disadvantages.
- Remploy partners with more than 2,500 of the country’s biggest employers including Marks & Spencer, BT, ASDA, Royal Mail, Sainsbury’s and the NHS
- Remploy has an increasing focus on providing specialist disability employment services to people with mental health conditions or learning disabilities
- It has a successful specialist service which supports ex-service personnel who have left the forces with disabilities or health conditions
- It continues to invest in developing innovative approaches and services for employers which are cost effective and business efficient including consultancy and a vocational rehabilitation service
- In July the Department for Work and Pensions launched a commercial process under which Remploy Employment Services would leave government ownership by March 2015
- This creates an exciting opportunity for a partner or investor to help develop Remploy to its full potential, enabling it to support many more disabled people into work
- The Government envisages that the commercial process will create a Joint Venture between a partner or investor and Remploy Employment Services staff operating as a social business in the private sector