Do you want to work?
That is a simple question, isn’t it?
Until you try and answer it.
Saying yes to it can lead to all sorts of issues because the answer can hide all sorts of caveats.
So, do I want to work? The short answer is yes…with those caveats. I’ve worked for 33 years of my adult life so I am not ‘work shy’ and I appreciate the life-enhancing aspects of work. But there is a big but in the way of that.
I’m Autistic. I need a job with routine, where change is discussed ahead of time, and where reasonable adjustments can be made. I also have ADHD so have to factor that in, as well as fibromyalgia which adds a physical aspect to my overall well-being.
So, I couldn’t, as an example, work in a factory, or stock shelves, or spend long hours working on my feet, or do a lot of walking. Just working will wear me out so I need to monitor how much physical activity I have to do in the course of the day.
And I don’t want a job that is endlessly repetitive. As much as routine is good for me, the lack of mental stimulation can be a major drawback and harmful as it leads to boredom and a desire to leave that particular post.
So I need a job that suits my needs and my ability to cope with it. I am not a square peg to be hammered into a round hole just to keep the government’s statistics looking good. And finding the right job, when you’re disabled or differently abled, is bloody hard. I don’t want, having had a breakdown, to have another one. I don’t want to let a prospective employer down, and I don’t want them to feel pressurised into offering me a job.
In an ideal world, I would work in travel. It’s my passion, my interest, but a role I am totally unqualified to do. I don’t have a degree, the customary request of almost all employers for all jobs these days, or so it seems. But I do have experience of travel, I enjoy research, I enjoy planning holidays and I believe it would be a good fit for me.
But my chances of achieving that aim are almost zero. I’m 57, I’m Autistic, so who is going to take a chance on me for the next 10 years?
It’s all very well that the government want the disabled to work, and many of us do, but some of us can’t just work for the sake of working. It just doesn’t work, excuse the pun, like that.
I’ve had a work capability assessment. I’m ruled unfit for work. That assessment concentrated wholly on my fibro without looking at why I had left my previous employment or my breakdown so I don’t even know if that’s been factored in. And that’s one medical assessment.
I was also assessed for PiP and the government has failed to realise that a WCA is not the same as a PiP assessment. PiP and being assessed for work are two very different things, looking at different aspects of life. PiP is to support a person with living costs, it is not assessing whether I can work in a supermarket or become the head of ICI. Saying that one assessment will deal with all aspects of life, unless it is dramatically changed, is nonsense.
Does this mean that only if you get PiP you will be exempt from work? But if you don’t then, no matter your illness or disability, you won’t get any help unless you strive to get a job…which is a job in itself. And what about sanctions? Disabled people are more likely to miss appointments due to changes in their health or access to the facilities required. How is that going to work? Are work coaches, with whom I have some sympathy, going to be given greater freedom in judging which excuse is genuine and which is not?
I have grave concerns about the current plans and must hope, as I am sure many disabled people do, that they never see the light of day. They are designed to fill us with dread because not once has this government demonstrated the slightest empathy with our situation.
So yes, I would like to think I would work again, in some capacity, but I’m not going to die in the process.