As some of you will know I recently finished university, which means I am now spending my days online, trying to find a job. Job hunting is a draining & irritating task for literally everyone, but things are made more difficult when you’re not able to do manual work (e.g. lifting, stacking shelves, waitressing, cleaning, etc.). Due to this, I wanted to write a quick post about how difficult it can be to find a suitable job when you have a disability or physical illness.
The internet is jam-packed with websites that help people to find work; all you have to do is type into Google “jobs in ___” & millions of results will announce themselves within seconds. Something I have noticed over the last few days though, is that there doesn’t seem to be any websites that help specific groups of people find jobs i.e. the disabled… I would waste so much less time if I was able to find a website that only presented me with jobs that don’t involve all the things that my body isn’t capable of doing. I’ve done a lot of scrolling through job adverts recently & 9/10 jobs will either be for a carer position, a waitress/waiter, bar staff or cleaning jobs – and this is great for people who are physically able to do these jobs, but all it means for me is frustration & upset over the fact that there are so many jobs that I literally cannot do. My illnesses also mean that I’m restricted in how far I can travel for work, & this also has a huge impact on the amount of jobs I can apply for.
I don’t search for jobs everyday, but I do look regularly & so far I have only found one job that I would be able to do – a receptionist job at a hotel chain. I am a good typer & good with people, so this kind of job would work for me whilst I’m trying to figure out exactly what career I want, or saving to do another course – but the job advert also said that you may be expected to help out in the kitchens or change bedding if you’re needed to… so if I get offered the job I’ll have to make it clear that I can’t do these things & then they’ll probably tell me to do one – because, why would they hire someone who can only do half the job when there’s half a dozen other applicants that would be perfect for the position?!
Something else that I’ve found draining during my job hunt is something that is irritating for everyone, regardless of their physical capabilities… and that is claiming benefits. I have absolutely no choice right now other than to ask the government to help me survive as I have £50 of my final student loan installment left in my bank account. Going down to the jobcentre to discuss my situation was humiliating & I hate that I may be thought of as a scrounger by anyone who sees me going in there. I’ve been lucky so far, in that the people I’ve had to interact with at the jobcentre have been lovely & extremely understanding… but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel incredibly self-conscious when telling these people that I can’t actually do 9/10 of the jobs advertised due to my invisible disability.
My “work coach” & I are hoping that I’ll be able to submit an application similar to a business plan to Universal Credit that will ask them to fund a counselling course for me so I can get my counselling qualification… in doing this I’m hoping that I will be able to start my career as soon as possible, but applying for this kind of funding isn’t always easy. Within this business plan that my work coach & I will put together, I have to basically sell myself as being worth the money; I have to convince them that allowing me to get my counselling qualification will result in me giving back to society & that I, in basic terms, deserve this chance. I’m hoping that the fact that I have a degree in psychology will show the people who run Universal Credit that I am committed to this type of work & that I am more than capable of gaining the qualifications I need to legally practice as a counsellor in the UK (despite the fact that my psychology degree is worthless in the eyes of the people who hire counsellors). By granting me the money for the course, Universal Credit will also agree to give me a living allowance so that I will be able to survive whilst I work toward getting my qualification. I’ve been told that if the course I find will cost under £1000 then my request probably will be accepted, but this isn’t guaranteed.
I think it’s brilliant that chances like this are available, but I still feel ashamed & embarrassed that I’m having to ask for this help because I don’t want to rely on the government too much… one day I may have no choice but to not work, & that will result in me living off of disability benefits, something that I really don’t want to do. I feel like, the more money I get given now, the worse I’ll feel in the future if I have to live off of government funding… I also worry that if I do get my qualification, & then in a few years my disabilities worsen so I can’t work, I won’t be approved for financial help because I would have already taken “too much” money from the government. I also hate that hardworking taxpayers, like my mum & boyfriend, have to give up some of their wages so that someone like me can survive – I know this kind of thing is all part of the society we live in, but my guilt is still there.
My work coach has also asked me to look into claiming some disability benefits, like Personal Independence Payment (PIP), as that funding will help me with travelling to work or to any courses I manage to sign up to. I know from friends that getting approved for disability benefits in the UK is incredibly difficult, so knowing I’m going to have to put myself through that process is making me really nervous. In the UK you aren’t able to just submit medical evidence to the government to prove that you need certain help, you also have to have multiple “interviews” where you are basically interrogated so that they’re able to establish whether you’re faking it and/or trying to use the system to your advantage. I’ve been told a lot of horror stories about people’s experiences with applying for PIP & something tells me that my rare & unknown conditions won’t be easily approved of.
I know for a fact that the next few months won’t be easy, & I’m sure this is just the first of many posts I’m going to be writing about what’s going on so stay tuned for an update (unless of course you’re bored of my moaning, in which case, go away).