An event to help more disabled people find work has taken place in Worcester today – with the city’s MP hailing it a success.
Robin Walker helped pull together ‘Disability Confident’, a networking-style event at the Guildhall which saw a series of employers and other organisations man stalls. A steady stream of disabled people attended to offer their personal stories on how they found work – including one wheelchair user who had to lie on his job forms to get work.
St John’s resident Jordan Powell, aged 24, a graduate in history and politics at the University of Worcester, said he spent two years not even getting interviews for “hundreds” of jobs until he deliberately neglected to tell recruiters he was disabled.
Within one week of not declaring it on job forms, he was offered interviews at four different companies and now works in telesales for estate agent Ludlow Thompson.
“In two years I applied for jobs every day, I went for hundreds of them and couldn’t get anything,” he said. “So I decided not to tell people and within a week I’d got four interviews – I’m now a telesales executive and I’ve smashed sales records for my company.”
The stallholders included the likes of The Aspire Academy, Sanctuary Housing, the Royal British Legion, Dolphin Assistive Technology and Headway, which supports people after brain injuries.
Mel Akers, the chief executive of Headway, said: “For disabled people it’s generally very hard for them to find work, but there’s so much they can offer.
“For those with brain injuries in particular, they often need employers who are prepared to be flexible.
“But we’re willing to provide individuals with support to do their jobs.” The University of Worcester also had a stall, manned by a blind employee Will Norman, who works in a communications role.
“This event is all about having that dialogue on what disabled people can offer in the workplace,” he said. “We want to encourage more of it because there are a lot of qualities they can bring.”
Wheelchair user and university student Alex Giles, aged 25, who is in his third year of a sport and development coaching degree, said: “I’m passionate about the inclusion agenda.
“We don’t want employers to just tick a box to say they employ disabled people, we want them to show how they are being inclusive.”
Mr Walker said he thought it was a “great event”, adding: “Something like this is really important and it’s great to see so many organisations here.”
Councillor Joy Squires, the deputy leader of Worcester’s Labour group, was also among the visitors.