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Disability Awareness Month

Lady in a wheelchair looking out of a window

Moving On Tyne & Wear (MOTW) support people from across the Tyne & Wear region who are currently unemployed and have a health barrier, disability, additional learning need or autism get into employment, training, or volunteering.

It’s UK Disability Month, and this year the focus is on two enduring stereotypes that make disabled people’s lives more difficult and act as a barrier to their inclusion.  One of these is ‘Disability and Hidden Impairment’ an issue that is close to our hearts here at MOTW.  We encounter many forms of disability in the people we help, and since 2017 a staggering 2070 of the 2774 participants that we have welcomed and supported on programme consider themselves to have a disability.  These disabilities range in complexity, severity, and visibility however we always adopt the same approach…

Bespoke, Honest and Non-Judgmental One-to-One Support.

Two ladies talkingWhen participants join our programme, they’re keen to get back into work.  Some have a clear path in their mind and know the career for them, others know the general direction they’d like to aim for, whilst some people have no idea whatsoever!  Regardless, we find that their confidence and self-belief is always affected by their disability or hidden impairment.  They don’t believe they’ll be given the same opportunities or chances with employers and we often hear our participants despair that there is ‘no point in applying’ or assume their disability will stop them from securing employment. But we know differently!!

Our job is so rewarding, as we help people to see that just because they identify as having a disability or hidden impairment it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve what they want to achieve.

MOTW staff are not only experienced and knowledgeable in the world of employability, but they are also reliable, positive and patient – really important qualities when supporting people who consider themselves to have a disability. Our staff help these people to not only conquer the daily challenges life throws their way, but they support them through difficult times and are with them to celebrate their achievements and successes.  Working with them is a privilege, and I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this life changing programme.

Nicola Barraclough, Programme Manager

lady in a wheelchair smiling at the camer

Each participant journey is different, but the start of their time with us is always the same.  We take the time to ask what their health barrier or disability is.  This allows us to make the appropriate provisions from the start, do our research and ensure our participant is comfortable.  For example, someone with reduced mobility may prefer to conduct most of our appointments virtually via a digital device.  Our blended approach makes this possible, and the quality of the service they receive isn’t affected.  Once their confidence grows, they may decide they’re ready to meet us face-to-face, so we’ll make sure we suggest places they’re familiar with and that have the appropriate and necessary accessibility so they’re comfortable.

We’re proud of our service and know that by delivering support bespoke to our participants needs and requirements, we’re doing the best thing for them.

What happens with our participants is ultimately down to them.  From how we communicate with each other, to how long they’re with us for, the steps they take along the way and the path they end up on – our participants have the final say.  We’ll encourage, make suggestions, and gently push our participants in their chosen direction, we’ll set realistic targets to help them realise their potential, and build on their confidence so they recognise their self-worth.  But we’re led by them, and it’s amazing to see their transformation as they progress and watch them flourish.

Once they’re ready to search for jobs we can help find opportunities for our participants who identify as having a disability with companies who are Disability Confident.  There are many of them across our region, and they span across every sector, so our participants can be confident that they’ll be looked after, and their needs accommodated.  However, we also know that everyone is different and just because there is a policy in place it doesn’t mean it’s always suitable for our participants.  This is why we’ll continue to push the boundaries where we can and ask employers whether there are any further adjustments that can be made in order to help our participants.  For example, this might come in the form of offering a participant a work trial as opposed to an interview, for someone with hearing loss this could help them demonstrate their ability to work as a team and complete the job requirements themselves, rather than rely on their interpreter.

We’re working hard to try and achieve equality in the opportunities and work available for our participants and strive to break down the stigma that having a disability is a barrier to employment.

If you, or someone you know, identifies as having a disability or hidden impairment such as Autism, Dyslexia or Tourettes then please consider contacting Moving On Tyne & Wear today.  Our service is voluntary, completely free and won’t impact on any benefits currently being received.  We can help find suitable employment within a company that understands your needs and will willingly make the adjustments required to create a happy, safe and stable working environment.  Give us a call on 0191 217 3206, email us enquiries@motw.org.uk or complete our online referral form.


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