The Generation Game

The Generation Game

How often do you hear, ‘what do the young people want?’ Perhaps not often enough. Certainly not as often as ‘how things have changed since my day!’ 

We wanted to hear from the next generation so we invited the multi-talented Abbi Brown on to our show. She works for the ad agency behind the now famous Malteser adverts on Channel 4.

With Abbi we explore whether you can make more of a difference from the inside or outside, who her (disabled) role models were when she was growing up and does she think there’s a disability movement these days. Indeed, what is activism these days, what are the next generation ‘fighting for’ if anything and does social media help or hinder? We also talk about using the bus and not thinking twice about it. 

Abbi has personal experience of disability with OI (brittle bones) deafness and mental health problems. 

You can follow Abbi on 

Twitter @AbbiSigns 

Instagram abbisigns  

YouTube  Ithinkmynameismoose

Unmasking the Pimpernel

We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere!
Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?
Where is that damned elusive Pimpernel!

Many of you will recall these famous lines from the play and novel “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. You may remember the Scarlet Pimpernel worked in the dark; his identity was only known to a few loyal supporters under a cloak of secrecy. I’m struck by the similarities between the Pimpernel’s behaviour and the response of today’s senior business leaders towards disability. Business leaders who are themselves disabled keep quiet and this often leads to a feeling that it’s a taboo subject. Disability lurks in the shadows and those employees who have non-visible impairments only tell trusted colleagues or friends. Very Pimpernelesque!

A recent report Disability Confidence: The Business Leadership Imperative’ supported by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) has found that business leaders with disabilities are twice as likely to be underrepresented in companies globally: though 1 in 7 of the world’s population live with a disability, fewer than half this figure (1 in 14 or 7%) of board-level executives consider themselves to have a disability. Of these, 1 in 5 does not feel comfortable revealing their disability to colleagues – highlighting that disability continues to be a taboo subject for many of the world’s leading businesses.

Another report this time published by the Thomas Pocklington Trust found that disabled people are being marginalised, 26% of British people admitted that they avoided conversations with disabled people, just over half felt that they did not have much in common with disabled people and 30% were concerned about causing offence and 17% didn’t know what to talk about. Evidence perhaps that reinforces the notion that it is better to keep quiet about having a disability.

A worldwide call to action for business to recognise the value of disabled people found disability is still woefully absent from the majority of board-level discussions globally – with the majority (56%) of global senior executives rarely or never discussing disability on their leadership agendas.

Despite all this gloom and despond, the question of disability employment was for the first time part of the agenda for business leaders attending the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. Thought leaders from the world of disability were rightly excited. An enthusiastic panel of disability experts appeared on the platform and shared their thoughts and ideas about how global businesses could take advantage of the disabled talent that is just waiting to be unleashed. Sadly very few business leaders attended so the panel’s pearls of wisdom fell on empty seats. If we are to take any comfort from this sorry state of affairs it is that at least the subject was on the agenda.

There are other signs that some things might be changing.

A CEO of a large corporate experienced a severe mental illness and as a result, had to take time away from work to receive treatment. In my experience what usually happens next in these situations is a generous severance package is put together and the search begins for a replacement. Not in this case. The individual concerned made a full recovery and was supported back into their role. What makes this story even more unusual was that the CEO then talked openly and publicly about what had happened.

By so doing they offered reassurance to those in a similar position that it is possible to continue working in the most demanding roles after experiencing a serious mental health challenge. In this particular company, at least, mental illness is now openly discussed. Programmes are being developed to assist and there appears to be a steady change in the corporate culture which now encourages people with non-visible impairments to share their stories.

At last the Pimpernel has been brought into the light.

Should we campaign to make snow wheelchair accessible!!

Let me begin by wishing you a very Happy New Year. I hope you had a really relaxing time over the Christmas holiday and are now revitalised and refreshed. That is of course if you have been able to get back to work at all!! Snow maybe picturesque, visually stunning and all that kind of thing but it’s a total nightmare to push through if you use a wheelchair, even worse if you use sticks! I think we require amendments to the DDA to either have all snow ramped or provide snow chains for wheelchairs as a reasonable adjustment!!Any supporters?

On a more serious note this very cold weather has clearly caused major problems for severely disabled people particularly those who are older. What is often overlooked, of course is the additional stress this places on those people who provide care or support to family members or neighbours etc. Where would we be without them! The knock on effect for some employers, of course, is that some of their staff are unable to come into work not because they can’t but because they have additional caring responsibilities which may be unknown to the employer. The recent press coverage of the impact on employers caused by the closure of schools has not picked up on this issue.

I’ve posted a couple of stories that I think might be of interest to you but as always do drop me a note if you want to know more or if you have an issue you think I might help with.

Government launches ‘urgent review’ of Pathways to Work

The government has admitted that its Pathways to Work programme to help disabled people into work is “less effective” than it first thought, and has launched an urgent review.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the programme – first piloted in 2003 – had not helped as many disabled people into work as it had hoped.

An independent study into Pathways to Work pilots had found that disabled people in Pathways areas were about 25 per cent more likely to be in work after 18 months than those in non-Pathways areas.

But a report published last October found that when Pathways – which can offer work-focused interviews, help applying for jobs and managing a health condition, and financial assistance – was rolled out to other Jobcentre Plus areas it had no effect on employment rates, compared with non-Pathways areas.

Now the government has launched an “evidence-gathering review” of the back-to-work support provided by Pathways to people on incapacity benefit and the new employment and support allowance.

It aims to publish proposals on the future of Pathways this spring, but says it wants to move to a “simpler, stronger, more personalised model of support”, with a focus on “rights and responsibilities” and value for money.

Adrian Whyatt, chair of the user group Neurodiversity International, said the government had awarded Pathways contracts to large organisations which failed to involve or understand disabled people, while disabled people’s organisations were too small to bid for contracts.

The contracts failed to ensure providers set up boards of disabled people to control the programmes, so there was a “lack of expertise” at “every stage of the process”, he added.

A DWP spokesman said Pathways had helped more than 173,000 people into work, and helped to “significantly” narrow the gap between the overall employment rate and that of disabled people.

But he said more needed to be done, which was why the government was reviewing Pathways “to explore how we can further support those who can work fulfil that goal”.

He said the government believed that “organisations of all sizes, small and large, from the public, private and voluntary sectors, have an important role to play in helping people back to work”.

He added: “We work continuously with providers to help them find ways to improve and enhance the service they provide to this customer group, actively encouraging prime contractors to engage with niche providers who have the specialist knowledge necessary.”
Seminars will help disabled people become NHS leaders

Disabled people who would like to take up senior roles within their local NHS are being urged to sign up for a seminar to help them make successful applications.

The seminars in Manchester and London are being run by the disability charity RADAR and the Appointments Commission, the independent body that helps government departments and NHS trusts appoint their board members.

Those who attend will be told how to apply for roles as non-executive directors in primary care trusts, ambulance service trusts, acute or foundation NHS trusts, or strategic health authorities, and what their duties would involve if successful.

Government figures show that only one in 20 appointees to the boards of the UK’s 1,200 public bodies is disabled or has a long-term health condition.

The government aims to increase this to nearly one in seven new appointments (14 per cent) by March 2011.

Those who attend the free seminars will meet recruitment consultants and disabled people who have secured senior NHS positions, as well as the chief executives of RADAR and the Appointments Commission.

There are up to 20 places available at each seminar, all for people living with ill-health, injury or disability.

Mark Shrimpton, RADAR’s joint deputy chief executive, said: “These free of charge events are fantastic opportunities for people affected by ill health, injury or disability to prime themselves to make successful applications to help run their local NHS services in a paid capacity.

“Delegates will get a whole day’s access to the CEOs of both RADAR and the Appointments Commission, as well as other key movers and shakers.”

The Appointments Commission will also provide support in pursuing an appointment after the event for delegates with the right skills and experience.

The all-day seminars take place in London on 11 February and in Manchester on 1 March.

For more information, contact Nisha Patel at nisha.patel@radar.org.uk ortel: 020 7503 6177.

News provided by John Pring atwww.disabilitynewsservice.com

RADAR searches for leaders of the future

A disability organisation is looking for 100 ambitious disabled people to help become future leaders in the public, private and charity sectors.

RADAR’s new leadership programme will bring together aspiring disabled leaders and provide them with the skills and personal development training they need.

Government figures show that only one in 20 appointees to the boards of the UK’s 1,200 public bodies are disabled or have a long-term health condition.

The government aims to increase this to nearly one in seven new appointments (14 per cent) by March 2011.

RADAR secured funding over three years for the new programme from the Department for Communities and Local Government, following its previous leadership work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Disability Rights Commission.

David Stocks, RADAR’s empowerment manager, who is a graduate of one of its previous leadership schemes, said it was “of the utmost importance” to “help disabled people realise their potential as leaders”.

He said: “Disabled people are not getting enough input into the way the country is run and their voice is not being heard.

“It is time to tap into the great pool of talent that is waiting to be realised within those living with ill-health, injury or disability.”

RADAR is particularly looking for applications from disabled people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with learning difficulties, neuro-diversity conditions and mental health conditions, as all four groups are particularly under-represented in leadership positions.

A senior civil servant from the Office for Disability Issues will mentor those in each of the four groups.

All 100 successful applicants will be invited to four leadership development days between January and April 2010 in Manchester and Birmingham, with coaching, mentoring and workshops, and additional telephone support between the four events.

To find out more, visit:www.radar.org.uk/leadership/downloads.aspx

The closing date for applications is Monday, 7 December.

News provided by John Pring atjpringnews@googlemail.com