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Employment.

Contents:

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION AND ADVICE.

What happens now the 'circuit-breaker' has ended?

The Welsh Government has produced an FAQ on current restrictions: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-regulations-guidance

Advice from ACAS for employees and employers.

Vulnerable people and high-risk

CASE STUDIES.

Job interviews and work in the shadow of Coronavirus.

Megan John is the Disability Equality and Inclusions Officer for Disability Wales where she is responsible for the development and delivery of DW's programme of regional networks event and training sessions and to promote knowledge and understanding of the Social Model of disability. Megan is also a disabled actor and is a member of UCAN Productions.

In Wales, Covid-19 restrictions happened before she was interviewed for the job. Here she discusses the challenges of home working, particularly with its emphasis on conducting meetings over the internet, and the impact that has on her as a partially-sighted person. I asked her how she found the interview process.

"The interviews were meant to take place in March as we went into lockdown so they were rescheduled for April.

"I felt more at ease and in control; I didn't have any of the anxiety about how I would get to the meeting; would public transport be on time; would I be able to find the building and then the correct room.

"It was the same interview panel as would have been conducting the face-to-face interview. It was held like a normal interview as well as it could be.

"Unlike a normal interview when you're going into a room with people you don't know, I was more at ease and the anxieties you normally have weren't there. Having the ability to see the interviewers' faces and read the situation better by being able to see people was really helpful. I was more anxious about my technology not working to be honest, so the anxieties were different really.

"I could control my lighting in my room and I could see the interviewers better than in a face-to-face interview. It brought them closer and made it a different experience for me with my particular vision impairment. It was a different experience rather than a better experience, if that makes sense."

How was the interview structured? Did they give you any tasks?

"Yes, we were asked to prepare a ten to fifteen-minute presentation to be delivered via Zoom. I had less anxiety about it because I had my notes and some bullet points to use for the presentation, and I was using the technology in my own environment in a way that suited me. I wasn't worried about doing it in front of people because I was just showing head and shoulders, and the tablet I had my notes on could have the text as big as I wanted and I could use it without it being watched by people. I didn't use Powerpoint - I just did a verbal presentation."

Do you think employers should be more open to interviewees doing verbal presentations?

"Yes, I do. I don't see why when someone asks for a presentation it automatically means Powerpoint. For me a presentation is conveying information to people in whatever format you choose. Unless they specifically ask for a particular mode of presentation you should choose what you feel comfortable with and what you're best at."

If you were to advise employers on best practise would you recommend flexibility on this point?

"Absolutely, yes. It's good for all applicants – disabled and non-disabled – but for disabled people it should certainly be a choice."

Anyway, you got the job. Congratulations! Covid gave you a strange baptism in the job last year. How do you find remote working?

"As a disability organisation they offer flexible working. At home it is more possible to take proper breaks from the screen. As a person with a vision impairment, I find the screen more of a strain than many people so I really need those breaks. Working from home means I can manage those breaks more effectively because I can work later to make up time without worrying about catching a train or whatever.

"It's important for disabled people to be able to manage situations such as fatigue, and the home environment is often the best place to be to do that. As a person with a vision impairment, I need to be able to control my environment. Lighting has to be right and I need to be able to change that as much as I need at any given time. Being able to do that is really important to me. In a shared office you have standard lighting you can't really change. You can't move to a new place all the time if you're at a fixed desk. You're stuck in an environment where you have only one specific lighting arrangement and the only way you can change that is to maybe put on a baseball cap or a pair of sunglasses. At home, I have lights that I can dim so I can adapt the lighting to suit me throughout the day."

How are you finding using online technology for working? Is it accessible enough?

"I guess, in terms of training online I can zoom in on my computer to read a Powerpoint and I can change the colour contrast on my screen so that the Powerpoint is in my preferred contrast. In face-to-face training I can't do that. In conferences, not just in interviews and meetings, I can select which speaker I wish to focus on and I can look at the presentations without having to use my phone as a camera. It's much easier."

So, you're able to manage this technology quite well?

"In terms of moving between speaker view and group view, yes. Obviously, the more people involved the smaller the faces get. But in, say, a staff meeting there are only a few people so I would leave it in group view. But I know how to use the assistive technology on my computer well for my benefit, so that helps as well."

How do you find using the chat area in Zoom?

"In meetings I can use the chat box but it does take me a little more time and concentration to keep up with chat and the verbal conversation at the same time. Sometimes there are just one or two comments but sometimes they are coming literally one after the other quite quickly, and to keep up with that can be quite challenging. When I'm running a focus group or presenting, I find it difficult to do that and keep up with the chat box, especially if there is a lot being posted in it. That's one of the biggest negatives for me because you wouldn't have that going on in a face-to-face situation – the comments and questions would come afterwards. Now they have the luxury of putting questions throughout and expecting a response. I have had another member of staff to monitor the comments and to pick out the questions and help anyone who is having technology problems. But I'm now going to be delivering sessions by myself so I'll have to ask people to put comments in the chat box but keep them to a minimum – there'll be an opportunity to have a conversation about them afterwards."

I find the chat intrusive. I can't manage the two streams of information – I just want to pay attention to the presenter. It can have a quality of being sat next to someone in a conference and they are whispering to you during a presentation.

"Yes, but it is really good for giving a platform for people who might not be confident enough to speak up in a meeting or people with certain impairments, but it can be a distraction from what is going on in the meeting. It has two sides – it's a good thing and a bad thing. It's like working from home generally – it has negatives and positives."

How are you finding the other aspects of work? Is it harder to motivate yourself at home?

"Working from home you have to work on your own initiative. You can't expect people to keep telling you what to do. Luckily, I have experience through being self-employed of working from home and working independently. But it is really frustrating when you're in the middle of doing something and you just want to turn around to someone in the office to ask them something. You have to ring them and if they're unavailable you leave a message or drop them an email. It can be challenging when you don't have that immediate response. Obviously that is not particularly disability-related; more of a general working from home problem. But I'm working in a quiet environment and I can focus on what I'm doing."

Is working from home something you would consider continuing? Would you be happy to stay at home or would you prefer being in the office?

"I think - depending on what you were doing - it would be good if you didn't always have to go in. There are people who prefer to be in the office but I'm someone who doesn't need to be around people to get the work done. That comes from my experience as a freelancer and when I've worked in an office it's been with a small group of people.

"I'm enjoying the luxury of not having to deal with the difficulties and anxieties of over-crowded public transport, but there is an element of missing that office environment where you can sit and have a conversation with colleagues. I can go a whole week without speaking to a colleague. We have bonded as a team quite well given the circumstances, but you don't get to know people in quite the same way and you don't get to just have a chat."

To find out more about Megan's work, contact Disability Wales on:
Email: info@disabilitywales.org
Phone: 02920 887325
Website: www.disabilitywales.org
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DisabilityWales
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DisabilityWales

Employment Enjoyment.

Megan Price tells us of her experience of being interviewed and getting her first job.

It took a while. A long while. A really, REALLY long time. But in 2020, the year of Zoom and Doom (AKA Coronavirus), I finally managed to gain my first ever employment - let the victory dance begin!

Anyway, as I was saying, I gained my first employment. It was a long road getting there. I'm 29 and I feel like I should have had a job well before now in my life, but I guess that's natural. We all want to be able to be like the majority and do all the normal things, grow up, be educated, get a job et cetera, et cetera. But hey, I got there slowly but surely. I feel that one thing that stood me out from the crowd was: 1) my passion and 2) the amount of volunteering I had been involved with. My job involves a lot of duties where I will be supporting other disabled people, and since I've been involved in lots and lots of this exact type of volunteering, I had LOTS to talk about in the interview. So if you know what type of role, or what type of things you want to do as a career I would strongly recommend getting involved in as much as possible. I know that can be daunting, but it really will help.

Talking about the interview, mine was, of course, over video call. In this instance - Teams. I did all the usual, got professionally dressed (as I thought having my camera off and doing it in my PJ's might not get me in the right mind set, and I needed to be on the ball!), I also ensured to click the link with plenty of time to spare in case there were any IT issues, and I made sure all preparations were in place. As the interview commence, yes I was nervous, but I was able to answer all the questions and we even had a casual conversation at the end – you know it's going well when you end up having a whole 10 minute conversation about dogs and why we love them after an interview, haha.

One thing I'll admit to as well, and some might consider this a risk, but at the end, I screwed up my courage and I was honest. I said: "I'd just like to say, I know I might not be the best at interviews, but I do hope that I've shown you the passion I have for this type of work." And the interviewers were a bit surprised, but said I had 100% done that.

Then the very next day, I had a call to say I had smashed the interview and had the job offer! Let the victory dance commence once more!

So, what has happened since? Absolute loads. Access to Work became the priority, especially if you don't know much about it, get to know it. Ask questions, ask the RNIB or other organisations what help they can provide or even go on Facebook or other social media because there are lots of groups and people on there that can give you some advice. It's definitely the number one thing you should do after you have a job offer (heads up, you can only apply once you have a start date).

Access to Work is a huge thing. Lots to plan. Lots to get through. And you need to be really specific. So prioritise it! As well as this process, I am also doing some online training. And, between you and me, it's been a bit of a frustration. There's been some really interesting training, I've learnt a lot of new and fun things, but accessibility wasn't the best. So what did I do? Yup! I told them! Very diplomatically, I emailed them (which I found via the website) and I just sent a basic first email to give them some feedback. I told them what I was struggling with and what was challenging. This was mainly down to colour contrast. I didn't think it would go very far, BUT, I had the most loveliest reply from a wonderful lady! Who has since, encouraged and welcomed any further feedback. So I've been working closely with her to improve their knowledge of accessible digital practice.

And of course, other than these things, I've been getting to know others in my team and getting to grips with the role and what is involved.

It's brought every emotion so far: joy, delight, stress, frustration, laughter, irritation. But it's absolutely worth it. I wouldn't change a thing. Even with the negative feedback I've been giving about the training accessibility, I don't see it as negative. It's constructive and proactive. They're not mind-readers, and you can't expect them to be. So, even thought I've only been working for 2 months now, I already feel like I've been contributing to the team and event, the organisation in such huge ways. I'm not the 'poor blind person, tucked in the corner to tick a box', I'm 100% part of the organisation, with so much knowledge and experience to give to them.

BEST MOMENT SO FAR:
Partying with Radio One. I started in December 2020, and within a week I was involved in a Team's Christmas party! Wooo! (see what I did there? My team? Microsoft Teams? … sorry!) – not only that, but, since it had to be all online, the lady that organised it got in touch with Radio One. And it resulted in our team having a Christmas office party with Radio One on air. You may only hear my wooing and cheering on there, but who cares!

Working Wales: Angharad won't let redundancy or a disability get in the way of her career aspirations.

Progressing to a career in marketing

Since graduating from the University of South Wales in 2015, Angharad, 27 from Port Talbot has been successful in gaining a variety of roles relating to her qualifications.

Angharad, who is registered blind say's "My degree was in journalism and this led me to undertake some additional courses in digital marketing. I really enjoy working in marketing and I'm passionate about progressing my career within the industry".

Due to the economic downturn, Angharad was made redundant in July 2020 from her role as account executive where she was involved in digital marketing and paid search activity for large UK companies.

Getting support from Working Wales

Following her redundancy, Angharad was advised to contact Working Wales by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) as they were aware of the redundancy support available. 

Working with careers adviser, John Parke, from the Swansea Careers Wales team the pair discussed Angharad's work aspirations. It was identified that some additional training would enhance Angharad's work portfolio and support her in her job search.

John suggested a leadership and management course with a local training provider and funding through the ReAct programme* would allow Angharad to undertake the course.

Angharad says, "The course was great! It has extended my knowledge and has the potential to help me diversify into other marketing roles.

"I'm applying for jobs and it's good to be able to include the new course on my CV and application forms. It shows that I'm keen to carry on learning to further my career".

If, like Angharad, you've been affected by redundancy or have a disability and need specialist support please go to for contact details https://workingwales.gov.wales/contact-us.

Finding a job is challenging but Working Wales can help

Whatever is stopping you getting a job, Working Wales can provide free expert careers advice and guidance that is specifically tailored to you. 
− Perhaps you're worried that a health problem or disability could hold you back.
− You may have been out of work for some time and need help with your confidence and getting the right skills.
− Maybe a redundancy means a change in focus and you're looking to retrain and learn new skills.
− You might need support with childcare to allow you to get back to the career you once had.
− Or it could be that you simply don't know where to start or what to do next.

Whatever your situation, Working Wales can help.

Visit: https://workingwales.gov.wales/ Call: 0800 028 4844 

Working Wales is delivered by Careers Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund.

* https://careerswales.gov.wales/courses-and-training/funding-your-studies/redundancy-funding

INTERVIEWS

Preparing for job interviews over phone or video

This advice has been sourced from Scope via https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/job-interviews-over-phone-or-video/

Remote interviews are when you are not in the same place as the people interviewing you. This can be a voice call or a video call.

You might be invited to a remote interview because it's
• the first of several interview stages
• cheaper and easier for employers

Remote interviews have become more common during coronavirus. Many employers are following social distancing guidelines when they recruit new staff.

Find out about the interview

Get advance information about the remote interview format, including clear instructions about how to access video calls. This will help you to prepare and work out if you need reasonable adjustments to make the interview accessible.

Types of remote interview

Voice calls:
Where you have a conversation with the interviewers. This is often a telephone call.

Video calls:
Where you have a conversation on camera. The interviewers will be able to see you. Some employers use free apps that you will need to download like Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. If the employer uses Microsoft Teams, you can sign in as a guest using the link in the meeting invitation. You can ask for a test meeting in advance if that would help. 

Remote assessments
Some employers use assessments during remote interviews to test an applicant's skills. Assessment tasks vary. These will depend on the skills needed for the job.

Tasks can include:
• role plays
• presentations
• case study exercises
• email inbox exercises
• using spreadsheets

Preparing for a remote interview

The employer should give you the information you need when they invite you for a remote interview. Ask for more details if you're not sure.

Know the interview arrangements

Make sure you know:
• the date and time of the interview
• whether it is a telephone or video call
• how to access the interview
• if you need to prepare anything before your interview, like a presentation
You could also ask who is going to be interviewing you.

Set up the room for a video call
Try to make the room as quiet and private as you can. This may mean talking to the people you live with or helping children to play somewhere else. Shut the doors and windows.

Make sure that you have a reliable internet connection. This could mean checking that no one else in your home is using the internet for anything that might slow it down, such as video streaming. Also, try to have:
• a stable surface to keep your device still
• a comfortable chair
• good lighting
• a neutral and tidy background
• smart interview clothes
• a drink nearby

If you cannot find a space with a neutral or tidy background, you may be able to blur your background or use a background image.

Get to know the technology

Before a video call, get to know the technology you will be using. If you can:
• install the video call platform to your device
• check how to switch on your camera and audio
• have a practice call with a family member or friend
• share your screen if you need to do a presentation

If you cannot use the same video call platform as the interviewer, use a different one so you can test your microphone and camera.

Prepare what you're going to say

Prepare the same as you would for any interview. Even though you will not be meeting the interviewers, this is still a formal conversation. You will want to present yourself positively and professionally.
• Think about the skills and experience you would like to discuss.
• Research the employer online.

Asking for reasonable adjustments

Under the Equality Act 2010 (GOV.UK), employers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled applicants. This means you have the right to ask for changes that will enable you to access the remote interview process.

Examples of reasonable adjustments might include:
• extra time to complete assessment tasks
• another person to assist you with setting up technology
• changing the interview time 
• having a personal assistant (PA) or friend there to support you.

Scope (www.scope.org.uk) offers a Support to Work programme - a free online and telephone support programme for disabled people in England and Wales, who are looking for paid work.

Tel: 0808 800 3333
Email: helpline@scope.org.uk

SUPPORT INTO EMPLOYMENT

JobSense offering pre-employment and in-work support to adults with sensory loss.

JobSense is a three-year project and ELITE works with partners Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) and the Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound (COS), to support individuals with Sensory Loss to access employability opportunities. It is supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. We cover the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire and South Powys. (See end of article for contact details for Wrexham, Flintshire and North Powys).

We aim to enhance and upskill people over 25 who are blind or visually impaired, economically inactive and/or long term unemployed, providing specialist support to enable them to enter employment, or move closer to the labour market through appropriate training.

Our number one priority has been to keep our current participants on track, by ensuring they are fully informed of the latest updates around Covid-19. We have aimed to keep everyone connected to each other and motivated. We knew how important it was to make ourselves accessible to everyone for support, information, and advice. The priority was to ensure we kept in touch with the multiple services available so we could continue signposting and engaging, and to reach other people who may benefit from our help.

Our team are friendly and encouraging, helping our participants to stay motivated and ready for when the restrictions are lifted, giving them the confidence and skills to find suitable employment.

ELITE is continuing to operate its pre-employment support to new and current participants, using a range of technology to maintain accessible contact and provide employability support. We have held a weekly job club on Microsoft Teams and / or a telekit conference call depending on individual preference and have used this as an opportunity for participants to meet in a group and share concerns. To date we have held interactive sessions alongside accredited courses. These have included Creating Online Profiles, Customer Service, Promoting Safe Practice during Covid-19, Wellbeing and Exercise, Equality and Diversity, Confidence building and many more topics.

Participant feedback on sessions:

"I thought the session was helpful during this time when I have low confidence."

"It provided me with ways in which to build confidence and help relax with the mindfulness exercises."

"Training was effective in that it contributed towards health and safety competency for employability and encouraged greater awareness of the kinds of accidents and other causes of ill health."

ELITE staff are homeworking and make regular individual telephone and video conferences calls to continue building on our participants employment skills and confidence. We also provide support with people's mental health and wellbeing at this difficult time, providing mindfulness sessions where needed.

Jane McCann from Sight life has referred several participants to the project from the Cardiff area and has seen first-hand how much of an impact the project is making to people's lives:

"The ELITE programme in Cardiff is hugely successful and there is a very high demand for it. Our members who are currently working with ELITE speak very highly of it indeed. They appreciate the regular contact; the structure and it is a pleasure to see their confidence grow. Those who have finished on the project say how much they miss it afterwards, but they are noticeably better able to self-advocate than before, as well as more confident to engage in leisure activities too."

Rob from Cardiff has been on the JobSense project since last year and since then has completed further training to complement his impressive CV, including a First Aid course, and Promoting Safe Practice During Covid-19 and other infectious diseases Through Covid-19 lockdown he has maintained his volunteering, working from home and now has been successful in achieving paid employment which is to start at the end of January.

"Employers are impressed with applicants who have the ability to rise to a challenge and to persevere. Volunteering has improved my communication with colleagues and supervisors and has allowed me to work as part of a team, stay organised and meet deadlines. This has ensured I gained on-the-job experience that I could potentially leverage into a future paid opportunity comprising interests that I've never formally pursued before.

When looking for paid work and requiring help with job searching, this scheme has been helpful because of training and volunteering. JobSense has reconnected me with local services and communities through working and educational related routes. This project understands that everyone is unique, with different needs and requirements, impacting on their step into the world of employment, education or training''.

Maxine, Employment Advisor from JobSense says "At first we were like everyone else, unsure of how it was going to work out, whether people would want to stay on programme or if we'd be able to facilitate our support effectively. We have been so pleased to have new participants start on programme whilst in lockdown and also several paid employment starts, which we are over the moon about."

One Participant advised; "When I came to the JobSense programme sightlessness was a very new experience for me and the simple things like reading a bank statement or making a cuppa were a challenge. Although I knew I had existing valuable transferable skills, I had no idea how I would be able to use them in the workplace or, indeed, if I would be able to work again and, as a result, my confidence in my employability had disappeared.

"This was exacerbated by Covid19, lockdown and fears that this would impact on my employability. I felt that in the current economic climate opportunities would not exist, I felt no-one would want to employ a person with a Visual Impairment, and I had no confidence in returning to employment.

"My JobSense Employment Advisor supported and continues to support me on the journey to regaining that confidence, through introducing me to assistive technology and new ways of working, by supporting me through my 'wobbles', by encouraging me to look for employment and voluntary work, helping me with job applications and carrying out mock interviews.

"The Job club that is part of the programme allowed me to meet other people with a visual impairment and provided a safe arena in which to ask questions. This was done through Video chat and telephone.

"JobSense does try to cater for as wide an audience as possible, and individual's needs. Overall, I have felt supported and encouraged in a positive environment, which has allowed me to make my way back into full time paid employment.

"I have now been working from home for 5 months. Using Access to Work to provide me with the technology I require to complete the tasks, ongoing support and advice with my Employment Adviser and reasonable adjustments in the workplace, I can achieve all the tasks set and feel confident in the job role I have undertaken.''

Another Participant advised: "You are more than an Employment Advisor, you have kept me on track, given me structure through these unsettled times, provided me with the confidence to learn, explore and move into a different career, given me the time to express my fears and overcome them, and continue to support me in my new role."

It is important to us to make sure our specialised support is still in place for people who need it. If you are aware of anyone with sensory loss looking to increase their employability skills who would benefit from the JobSense programme, please do get in touch.

We welcome new referrals to our programme and our Employment Advisors are always willing to discuss individual cases to assess eligibility, or signpost to the relevant support.

Contact details:

Newport/Monmouthshire: Tina Hewitt thewitt@elitesea.co.uk
Vale of Glamorgan/Cardiff: Maxine Levett mlevett@elitesea.co.uk
South Powys: Amanda Pearce apearce@elitesea.co.uk
Website: https://elitesea.co.uk/our-projects/jobsense/

Jobsense in North Wales.

"JobSense", funded by the European Social Fund, is a 3-year project supporting individuals with sight loss and/or hearing loss to secure and retain employment. In Wrexham, Flintshire and North Powys, the scheme is operated by The Centre of Sign, Sight, Sound (COS).

Tel: 01492 530013 mobile 07435967326
Email: jobsense@signsightsound.org.uk
Web: https://www.centreofsignsightsound.org.uk/jobsense

Disability Rights UK

Careers advice, rights and the Equality Act, disability-friendly employers, employment programmes, apprenticeships and more.

Tel: (General enquiries) 0330 995 0400
Email: enquiries@disabilityrightsuk.org
https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/careers-and-work-disabled-people

Working Wales

Working Wales is a newly-launched project which aims to provide "inclusive, accessible and comprehensive" support for adults 18+ as well as young people 16-17 from the point they leave education. Their website has sections on work advice, funding for training, help for childcare, redundancy support, courses, learning new skills, and leaving school. The section on specialist support includes employment support and apprenticeships for disabled people.

Web: https://workingwales.gov.wales/
Tel: Careers Wales 0800 028 4844

Even Break

"Disabled jobseekers can be confident that employers who have chosen to place their vacancies on this site are serious about looking beyond their disabilities to identify what skills they have to offer."

Email: info@evenbreak.co.uk
Tel: 0845 658 5717
Web: www.evenbreak.co.uk

Career Pathways

Career Pathways is an independent careers advice service for young disabled people. Career advisers will work with you to set you on the path to succeed. 

You will be offered up to 3 one-hour sessions with a specialist career adviser to:
− make you aware of all the career options and the employment routes open to you;
− develop your career goals and create an action plan to help you achieve them.

(Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, all sessions will be run online and by phone until further notice).

Tel: 0808 800 3333
Email: careerpathways@scope.org.uk
Website: https://www.scope.org.uk/employment-services/career-pathways/

The Pocklington Trust

The Pocklington Trust provides a range of services and support for anyone with sight loss wanting to start, restart or progress their careers. This includes:
• A professional coaching service (particularly useful for people facing redundancy due to Covid-19).
• Mock interviews carried out over the phone or via video conference.
• Online resources including hints and tips on subjects such as completing an application form, preparing for an interview, and job hunting.
• Occasional online events where someone with sight loss talks about their experience of employment, with the opportunity to ask questions.

Email: info@pocklington-trust.org.uk
Tel: 020 8995 0880
Web: https://www.pocklington-trust.org.uk/what-we-do/employment/

Minds in Sight employment forums

Vision Support, Henshaws and RSBC are currently partners in the 'Minds in Sight' project which aims to give a voice to young VI individuals on a variety of topics. The project's local and national employment forums, held in November of 2020, provided opportunities for participants to ask questions and discuss their experiences with representatives from organisations such as Careers Wales and ACAS.

More 'Minds in Sight' employment forums are coming in 2021.

Tel: 01244 381 515
Email: kbenn@visionsupport.org.uk

Agoriad Cyf

Agoriad Cyf was established in 1992 with the objectives of developing the employment possibilities for disabled and disadvantaged people. Since this time a great many of our clients have benefited from their experience with Agoriad and are proving to be loyal and effective contributors to their employers. We also offer specialist recruitment services for businesses throughout North Wales.

Agoriad Cyf, Tŷ Gwydr / The Greenhouse, 1 Trevelyan Terrace, High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd  LL57 1AX.

Tel: 01248 361 392
Email: info@agoriad.org.uk
Web: https://www.agoriad.org.uk

Sight Loss Advice Service - employment

RNIB's Sight Loss Advice Service provides information and support for people with sight loss who are working or looking for employment. This includes:
• Information and factsheets on looking for work
• Advice on completing an application form and writing a CV
• Advice on whether and when to disclose that you have a disability
• Preparing for an interview
• Starting in a new job
• What to do if you are employed and there is a change in your level of sight
• Schemes and technology to help you in the workplace
• Information on becoming self-employed
Web: https://www.rnib.org.uk/advice/equality-rights-employment
Helpline 0303 123 9999

The Macular Society

The Macular Society and Support4Sight have joined forces to create a series of YouTube videos, exploring the challenges of employment and looking for work as a visually impaired person. Topics covered include writing a CV, disclosing sight loss, and the Access to Work scheme.

Tel: 0300 3030 111
Web: https://www.macularsociety.org/news/new-series-videos-visually-impaired-workers-and-job-seekers.

Scope - Working on Wellbeing project

Disability charity Scope's 'Working on Wellbeing' project is an employment training and support programme for disabled people in Wales. Advisors will work with individuals to develop a programme around their career goals and how they can be achieved.
The service, which is available in English and Welsh, is for disabled people aged 16 and over who are currently unemployed.

Tel: 020 76197139
Email: workingonwellbeing@scope.org.uk
Web: https://www.scope.org.uk/employment-services/working-on-wellbeing/

Leonard Cheshire Disability - Changing Futures

Changing Futures is an employment programme aimed at individuals with a disability living in the Swansea/Bridgend areas who are struggling to access training, volunteering or employment. The programme, which is run by Leonard Cheshire Disability, provides one-to-one and group training regarding job brokerage, and on-the-job and work-related accredited training tailored to individual needs. It also provides up to 26 weeks of full-time paid employment with local employers.

Tel: 01633 422583 (Wales office)
Email: changingfutures@leonardcheshire.org
Web: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/what-we-can-do-you/working/employment-support-and-internships/employment-support/employment-support .

Professional coaching.

For blind and partially-sighted people facing redundancy, TPT offers professional coaching to help you identify career goals and develop a strategy with action steps to achieve those goals.

Tel: 020 8995 0880
Email: employment@pocklington-trust.org.uk
Web: https://www.pocklington-trust.org.uk/what-we-do/employment/professional-coaching/

MENTORING.

Working Wales

Working Wales can support you through these changing times with free advice, guidance and access to training to help you get into work or further your career.

Tel: 0800 028 4844
Email: workingwales@careerswales.gov.uk
Web: https://workingwales.gov.wales

Jobsense.

(See article above)

Communities for Work.

Communities for Work is a community based advisory service working to increase the employability of individuals who are not in employment, education or training and who face complex barriers to employment. 

Communities for Work can provide support to help to build your confidence, gain some work experience, learn new skills or re-write your CV. Communities for Work will help you as an individual and will meet with you in your local community.  

Web: https://workingwales.gov.wales/how-we-can-help/learning-new-skills/communities-for-work

Leonard Cheshire Disability – Change 100 scheme

Change 100 is an annual scheme which offers students and recent graduates with disabilities paid summer work placements, professional development and mentoring. It aims to remove barriers experienced by disabled people in the workplace, to allow them to achieve their potential. It is run in partnership with leading employers in the UK who believe disability isn't a barrier to a brilliant career.

The closing date to apply for placements in 2021 has now passed, but applications for 2022 are likely to open in autumn 2021.

Tel: 01633 422583 (Wales)
Email: change100applications@leonardcheshire.org
Web: https://www.leonardcheshire.org/get-support/working/change-100-internships/applicants

SUPPORT IN EMPLOYMENT

Access to work and coronavirus

The changes to Access to Work factsheet gives information on Coronavirus. In brief:

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, you can still get help from Access to Work if you have a disability or a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job.

You may be able to get help with working from home, at your normal workplace, or a combination of both. If you cannot use public transport safely because of your disability, and your doctor or healthcare professional supports this, funding may be available for extra travel costs.

If you employ your own support worker and have additional costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), Access to Work may be able to provide funding.

Access to Work can also provide funding for remote support services, such as video remote interpreting or British Sign Language interpreting.

You cannot claim help from Access to Work if you are no longer working. If you already have an Access to Work award, you can start using it again when you start working.

DWP is prioritising making grants for new claims from critical workers, those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and people due to start work within 4 weeks.

Web: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/access-to-work-factsheet/access-to-work-factsheet-for-customers

Blind in Business

The aim of Blind in Business, which was founded by three vision impaired graduates, is to help blind and partially sighted graduates to compete equally with sighted candidates for good jobs, by providing help, support and training, and by removing barriers to success. They aim to help anyone with sight loss who wants careers advice or support in the workplace, and can also advise employers, the families of vision impaired people, and university disability support staff.

Tel: 020 7588 1885
Email: info@blindinbusiness.org.uk
Web: https://blindinbusiness.org.uk/

ACAS Wales - the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service

ACAS is an independent public body that receives funding from the government. They provide "free and impartial advice to employers, employees and their representatives on employment rights, best practice and policies."

For their recent training and information on employment during the Covid-19 pandemic, go to:
https://archive.acas.org.uk/wales

Their advice for employers and employees concerning Covid is at https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

Tel: 0300 123 1150

Coronavirus: your rights at work

UNISON gives advice on rights in the workplace under Coronavirus restrictions.
Web: https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work/

Employee rights and Coronavirus

Web: https://www.scope.org.uk/advice-and-support/employee-rights-coronavirus/
Tel: 0808 800 3333
Email: helpline@scope.org.uk

Health and safety when working at home

The Health and Safety Executive gives advice to employers on health and safety. This is particularly useful now that many workers are now home-working. Aimed at employers, it is helpful for workers to know their rights and what to look out for.

Web: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm

Your rights in employment

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has produced a guide to reasonable adjustments in the workplace, including who is responsible for meeting the costs:
Web: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/multipage-guide/employment-workplace-adjustments

Tel: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084

AWARENESS-RAISING.

RNIB's advice to employers.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/sites/default/files/RNIB%20Workplace%20Best%20Practice%20Guidelines.pdf

Welsh Government's advice to employers and toolkit - employing disabled people.

https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/employing-disabled-people

ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION.

This advice on communication needs has been compiled for health workers in Word and PDF. Additional material from Welsh organisations can be found in Word format at communications_needs_wales.docx

Making meetings accessible for people with sensory loss.

WCDP and WCB have teamed up to provide guidance on making meetings accessible, including on-line meetings.

Transcriptions.

Pia Publishing are a 'critical supplier' so they are continuing to produce Braille. www.pia.co.uk

Wales Council of the Blind is able to produce Audio CDs as usual. We will be focusing on materials that are critical for vulnerable people for the time being. Contact Richard Bowers richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk. We shall, when print versions of Sylw and Roundup are produced, distribute Audio CDs as normal.

PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING

OTHER USEFUL ORGANISATIONS.

Jobsense project (COS) (North Wales).

Following Government Guidelines all COS staff are home working, but are continuing to work with participants either by phone or video call.  WEFO have also relaxed the eligibility criteria during this period so we can continue to take referrals and sign up new participants to the programme.

COS have produced a newsletter detailing how the organisation and services have been operating during lockdown along with contact details. https://sway.office.com/ZPQ4wNJbfEOONLJB?ref=Link

Jobsense (South Wales).

Due to the recent Government guidelines and like many other organisations, the JobSense team have begun to work from home. We are still however fully operating our pre-employment support, with our phone lines and emails open to participants and new referrals. 

If you are aware of anyone using your services who would benefit from the support on JobSense, please do not hesitate to contact myself or my colleagues, who are taking on new referrals in the following areas;

TECHNOLOGY

Social Distancing help.

Sodar is a social distancing app for Android and Chrome.

https://sodar.withgoogle.com

Dolphin

To ensure their customers have all the help and support they need now and in the coming months, Dolphin has put together a series of video trainings, phone-ins and live action webinars.

If you're not technical, you just need to be able to make a phone call. And if you're a little more computer or app savvy, they've got webinars and online meetings.

Browse the complete list or find out more at: www.YourDolphin.com/webinars. Their support and sales teams are all open and fully operational. Call 01905 754 577 or email dave.salisbury@yourdolphin.com.

BENEFITS

Disability benefits have been affected due to the coronavirus outbreak. The following information has been announced by the Department for Work and Pensions:

All face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for at least three months, effective from 17th March 2020. This will affect new claims for, and existing claimants of, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), some on Universal Credit, and people who receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. If you have a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from 17th March onwards, you do not need to attend and you will be contacted to discuss the next steps and alternative arrangements. Further updates will be available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-to-face-assessment-suspension-continues-for-health-and-disability-benefits

The DWP is continuing to accept new claims for all benefits. Anyone already receiving PIP, ESA, Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, will continue to receive their current payments as normal while alternative arrangements are put in place to review or reassess their claim. You now have more time to complete and return your form. 

OTHER RESOURCES

Job retention.

Information for employers who need to claim for their employees’ wages:

 

Contact:

This page is being maintained by Richard Bowers: richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk. Please send updates and corrections to him.