It doesn’t seem like ten years ago that Evenbreak first tiptoed shyly out into the world, a little unsure of how it would be received. In June 2011, Evenbreak felt proud to be registered as a ‘Company Limited by Guarantee’ at Companies House, but with no employers, no vacancies, no candidates and no staff, its future was – to say the very least – a little uncertain.
Following spinal surgery leaving me unable to do much physically other than lie down, I founded Evenbreak and ran it for the first few years lying flat, with a laptop suspended above me. Nothing like Evenbreak had ever existed (which was why it was started), and nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster ride ahead.
Ten amazing years later, and how much has changed! We have a team of 17 (and rapidly growing) amazingly talented disabled people, we’ve worked with 1,678 employers, over 50,000 candidates have registered on the site (growing at over 1,000 new candidates a month), countless jobs posted (over 70,000 just in the last six months), and we’re working with many large companies from a wide range of sectors including Unilever, Facebook, BBC, Tesco, John Lewis and many, many more.
Along the way, there have been so very many highlights, but I’m going to try to restrict myself to 10, to match our age:
- The first candidate to get a job through Evenbreak. Just a couple of weeks after we went live, I saw a post on our Facebook page from a candidate, thanking us for ‘changing her life’. As far as we know, Jean was the very first candidate to gain a job through Evenbreak – she has remained a friend of Evenbreak ever since!
- The first employee to join me. Sophie spoke to me about her son, Lewis, who was 16 and needed a job. Having been home-schooled for a maximum of four hours a week since the age of ten because of his chronic ME, he had no work experience or qualifications and was unable to work outside the home. I’m thrilled to say that he has worked with Evenbreak ever since, barely taking any time of sick, and rarely, if ever, making any mistakes. And his brother, Arron, also joined us a few years later. Both are very valued members of the team.
- Our first large corporate sponsor. Most companies were reluctant to use us until others had, which caused a problem starting out, but Network Rail were happy to be pioneers and put their name to this as yet new and untried service. Thank you Network Rail – once you had taken the plunge, many, many more followed suit, but you were the first!
- Evenbreak launch event at the House of Commons. We held our launch event in January 2012 at the House of Commons in London, with a number of great speakers. I’m proud to report that many employers who attended that event went on to advertise their vacancies with us.
- Winning a number of awards. Whilst this may seem to be ego-driven, it’s always good to receive recognition for the work we’re doing, and it can help to ensure that disability stays firmly on the diversity and inclusion agenda. In 2014 we were a Finalist in the National Business Awards and won the OnRec Industry award the same year. In 2015 we won an Excellence in Diversity Award (Best Private Sector Diversity Champion). In 2017 we won the APSCo Award for Best Disability Practice, and in 2018 the APSCo Diversity and Inclusion Award. In 2020 we were joint winners with TribePad in the Digital City Tech for Good Awards.
- Our first national conference. In 2014 we held our first national conference, with some great speakers, and a great audience, many of whom went on to use Evenbreak to advertise their vacancies, and adopt many of the good practices we spoke about at the conference. We’ve held other equally successful conferences since.
- The best practice portal. Employers told us they needed support in becoming more inclusive and accessible, so we built a best practice portal and filled it with hundreds of inline resources to help them. Channel 4 kindly helped us launch it at their London venue.
- Our videos. We have produced a number of videos to challenge some of the stereotypes around disability, including I am … and Dream Job
- Groundbreaking research. UCL carried out some research for us, on the barriers to employment faced by disabled people. We launched the findings at Wellcome.
- The launch of the Career Hive. The most recent highlight – and what a highlight that was! – was gaining funding from the Nesta Rapid Recovery Fund which enabled us to start a whole new service – the Career Hive – a dedicated careers support service for disabled people seeking new or better work, delivered by an amazing team of careers professionals with lived experience of disability.
It’s been a heady ten years – and I can’t wait to see what Evenbreak and its amazing team achieves in the next decade! I feel very lucky to have worked with such a wonderful team of people, a number of great employers and partners and our truly incredible candidates.
Jane Hatton, CEO.