Angela Smith is a woman with a Master’s degree and a long history of working in policy and disability support, writes Kate Belgrave.
She also has cerebral palsy and uses an electric wheelchair to get around. I’ve been accompanying Angela to her compulsory fortnightly Wembley jobcentre signons and meetings with the Reed Partnership, her work programme provider in Harrow. We’ve shown how difficult London buses can be for disabled people to use. We’ve also shown how pointless those fortnightly meetings at the jobcentre and the work programme really are when it comes to finding work.
Anyway. Angela has a new job. She got it without any help whatsoever from the jobcentre or the Reed Parntership. She found the job advertisement, filled in the application form, went to the interview and got through.
She did the whole thing entirely by herself. But that hasn’t stopped the work programme provider from trying to claim the result for itself. I went with Angela to her final meeting there a couple of weeks ago and saw this in all its glory. Her work programme adviser – a pleasant enough woman – congratulated Angela on finding a job. Then she said something along the lines of: “look, I know we haven’t helped you get this job at all – but would you be prepared to be featured in our Success Stories poster campaign? We could get your photo done and get a poster made. That would be really good.” There were posters on the office walls of people working at various jobs and saying things like: “I’m now running a successful business.” Angela and I decided that they must have been a bit short on successful-placements-of-disabled-people-in-work stories so they’d figured they’d have hers.
Pity they had nothing to do with it.
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