Kim shares her employability journey for Employability Day 2019
Kim grew up in a household where paid employment was expected of everyone. It was seen not a choice or preference but understood to be institutionally a part of who we are as people. Kim believes these family values have been key to her approach to work. She has a passion for meeting new people and working as an Administration Assistant with Scottish Huntington’s Association embraces this.
Paid employment has a positive impact on Kim’s health and well-being and fills her with purpose. By working for a charity Kim is reassured she is working for a sector that is dedicated to meeting and supporting the needs of others which is important to her. Kim’s employment journey has been diverse as she explored her interests and skills, however she was faced with some fundamental decisions along the way to ensure that she can work and live well with muscular dystrophy.
At 14 years old she began to earn a little pocket money by walking some dogs and sitting with them whilst their owner was working. This was her first experience of earning money and Kim has a love for animals and art so this job was perfect for her. Kim was unsure of what she wanted to do as career so tried a Community Art Project. From this she realised this wasn’t something she wanted to pursue as a career but resumed in volunteering and as a hobby. She also tried working in a shop but that wasn’t for her.
Kim really enjoys showcasing her creative side and relished her volunteering role- aiding the running of kids clubs, summer placements and delivering art activity such as basket weaving for the elderly in care homes. Although this is where her passion lay, an Occupational Therapist did suggest to Kim that a career in administration may be a better option for her as her condition is degenerative and this path would offer longevity.
Although Kim wasn’t keen, she accepted a job in reception at a lingerie factory. To her surprise she enjoyed the position and discovered that she obtains great organisational skills. Kim realised her potential to make a career in this field with the flexibility to choose which sector she would like to work in, with transferrable skills to gain positions across the sector to ensure happiness and progression as desired.
Kim believes that in order to close the employment gap, individuals need increased awareness of the organisations and support available to aid them on this journey. Disabled people are plagued by negative press being portrayed as ‘work shy’ and ‘benefit scroungers’ however, this is far from the truth and individuals need to be proactive and think outside the box in how they can overcome the prejudices and barriers they face. The key to change is collaboration- for people, agencies and government to be communicating as one. Disabled people have a lot to offer employers and workplaces, who also have a responsibility to be aware of reasonable adjustments which can be offered to ensure they utilise this pool of talent.