Tricia shares her experiences of returning to work, managing long term conditions and utilising Access to Work to support this journey.
In 1996 Tricia was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and in 2000 she was faced with additional health challenges including Meniere’s Disease and Repetitive Strain Injury. At this point she had to stop working and for the next six years was unable to continue in employment. During this time Tricia had to try and learn how to live well with a fluctuating long term condition and adapt to the challenges she was facing.
Today, Tricia is the Senior Coordinator at Grampian Opportunities, an organisation which works with people to identify what they want to achieve. Helping to find information, and people who can support an individual plan and work towards their personal goals.
The Employability Journey
Tricia’s journey back to employment was gradual and is exemplar in her commitment, drive and passion. To begin with she was only capable of doing a couple of hours employability activity but over a period of years was able to build it up to nine. She also successfully completed COSCA in counselling Skills at Aberdeen University by extending the length of the course, so it was both manageable and achievable.
Tricia started as a volunteer with Grampian Opportunities in 2006 on a project which highlighted types of support people needed to help them stay in employment. By making plans to use her skills to help others, Tricia realised that perhaps work could be an option in the future. She later successfully achieved a paid position with the organisation as a mentoring Coordinator
‘I had always worked. It was about having a purpose. Volunteering made me want to keep going.’
Making the transition from permitted work to taking on four days employment is a big step and can provoke a lot of fear about coming off benefits, however, for Tricia having a supportive employer was paramount in aiding this transition. She was able to manage her own diary, adopt flexible working and utilise Access to Work.
Through Access to Work Tricia was able to get administration support, which included people to take on some of the work and for drag and voice recognition software. The individuals who support Tricia, do so in the capacity of permitted work, supporting the start of their employability journey also.
‘I wouldn’t be able to do my role without Access to Work or keep up with the level of admin in the role and keep well.’
Tricia practices self management and accesses the support she needs to enable her to succeed in her own life. This has included progression in her career and she is now Senior Coordinator. This involves some travel which is supported by Volunteer Drivers during the periods which she is unable to drive.
Tricia also has her own coaching and mentoring business after undertaking the ILM Level 5 Diploma in the Management of Professional Coaches and Mentors.
Employability and getting people into work is important to me. Through small steps this can be achieved