Tear up the job applications and start a business instead.

Today’s guest blog is written by Penny Melville-Brown OBE and is promoting the idea of looking at self-employment rather than a PAYE job working for someone else!

What can you do when nearly every employer seems to think that getting a health condition/disability makes you not worth considering?  I remember asking everyone I could think of, when I was leaving the Royal Navy, about help and advice.  One charity (that should remain nameless) was crass enough to suggest that, because I’d been a barrister, I could sit in a library and do research for other people – not quite taking on the fatal conflict between books and blindness.

So what do you do?  There is a lot of help out there about gaining new skills, writing CVs and interview techniques.  Up in Derbyshire, where I do most of my work, we have created the Help to Work partnership with a directory of free employment support.  And once you are ready, there are enlightened employers who specifically encourage disabled people to apply – like those on the Evenbreak website.

But for the rest of us, self-employment can be the ideal answer: taking charge of what we do, when and where.  It’s not surprising that working disabled people are more likely to be self-employed than their non-disabled peers – running our own businesses helps us manage health alongside the fun and fulfilment of work.  But lots of the “mainstream” business start-up support has been notoriously poor for us (I still remember a Business Link adviser who was unable to understand the concept of alternate formats, let alone provide them!).  But its much more than accessible documents and venues – our clients have needed empathetic Business Advisers able to give them personal, one-to-one support at their own pace, often over many months.

We ran the Work for Yourself programme in Derbyshire for over seven years (until the funding ran out this June).  We focussed on areas of high deprivation and very high levels of disabled people in the local population – and the amount of interest was just staggering: hundreds wanting to get back to work by any means.  It paints a completely different picture to the one presented by so much of the media.  Instead of being work-shy scroungers, there is a ground-swell of disabled people wanting to get off benefits and fulfil their potential.

Their imagination in creating new businesses is equally staggering: from gun dog training and catering through repair of vintage outboard motors to recycling cargo nets and becoming published authors (http://www.businessability.co.uk/success%20stories.htm).  And this is a nation-wide interest as we have found each time the BBC TV programmes feature one of our clients – the phone rings off the hook!

Not only were disabled people taking the initiative themselves to become self-employed but their success rates with us were much higher than either the Work Programme or Work Choice alternatives – and most of our clients had been out of work for years.  You can check out the results and what clients say about becoming self-employed at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/blkm6bubtniyqj1/AAD8uUX69RBsWeAwhrsyH1R-a?dl=0 What we need now is someone to put some serious support in to this alternative work route – perhaps a bank or similar from the financial sector with vision, corporate social responsibility and entrepreneurship.  All offers welcome!



Penny Melville-Brown set up Disability Dynamics in 2000 – providing projects, training and consultancy to improve the employment opportunities for other disabled people – contact her on 01329 841814 or penny@laylands.co.uk or read her news and views).




To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs/

To make a donation to Evenbreak go here – https://localgiving.com/charity/Evenbreak

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