Disability History Month 2021
Disability History Month is observed to raise awareness and understanding of disability rights history and celebrate the achievements of disabled people. This year’s national theme for Disability History Month is hidden disabilities. With this in mind the region has developed an event to raise awareness of this. Please show our support for disabled colleagues by joining the event which is scheduled for Tuesday 7th December 10-1130. If you would like to registar please use this link. Details of how to join the event will follow.
Themes for the event includes;
- Colleague and patient stories
- Disability leave and importance of Disability health passports
- Discussions around how to support staff with disabilities
Marcelle Quinn - Disabled Staff Network Lead
Developing a disability of chronic arthritis and other health conditions in my late 40’s made a massive change to my working life, as it meant that even the smallest things I took for granted, such as reaching up for a file from a tall shelf necessitates me asking for help. I am really independent by nature and have always had a strong will, so two things have come out of this, I have learnt that I need to ask for help when I have to and fight for rights when I see an injustice. Becoming disabled has meant that I have a new insight into how difficult even daily activities can be, especially whilst working, so I try to support those colleagues who need support either physically or with their mental health in order to be able to undertake their jobs on an equal footing with everyone else.
I believe that leading the staff Network helps me share experiences and support with other colleagues who have similar issues and barriers as I do and helps them to see that they are not alone. One of the things I am proud of is that the Trust has adopted a health passport which came about through the DSN urging them to do it. The reason we wanted the Trust to adopt a health passport was because too many staff who were covered under the Equality Act 2010, were expressing concern that their Managers did not understand or would not practice what our policies stated i.e. putting into place reasonable adjustments to help them do their job. We are now working towards getting the Trust to adopt a disability leave policy.
I am a member of the regional group of disabled network leads and as part of my Lead role within our Trust, I attended a webinar at which I put a simple message into the conversation box, ‘would anyone be interested in forming a national group of network leads’. 91 people answered the call and today there is a network of regional groups which form a national group. In this national group we are currently working on encouraging those Leads to work towards each Trust adopting a health passport and disability leave and more recently are working towards co-signing a letter requesting these be adopted by all NHS Trusts in England.
I am passionate about disability rights and I will leave you with a statistic…. 8.4 million people of working age (16-64) reported that they were disabled in October-December 2020, which is 20% of the working age population. This is an increase of 327,000 from the year before. (source: Disabled people in employment (parliament.uk). These figures are bound to rise as our population lives to be older and has to work older due to the retirement age rising year on year.
Equality and Inclusion Manager (North East, Yorkshire and Humberside Region)
Zach Adam's Equality and Inclusion Manager's has also written a blog for us this month where he talks about what it like living and working with a disability.
"At my doctor’s, whilst getting my much-celebrated second jab, I noticed the sunflower lanyard scheme they were running. I expressed joy that, finally, the globally recognised symbol for non-visible disabilities had finally made it across the shores to greater prominence in the UK.
"To the curious who are unaware, a hidden disability (i.e. Disabilities not always obvious/visible) goes against the traditional mould that one must appear unwell to be considered disabled.
"So, as I sit on my desk in a haze of spreadsheets and slide-decks– to most others who are happily unaware– they see a happy 32-year-old man working steadily. To others who know me better, they know that things aren’t always as they appear beneath the quirky surface.
"They know that if my posture falls slight of upright for just for a couple of minutes that my de-conditioned muscles can no longer hold my spine in alignment. I will become as a stiff as office pole requiring to bend my body in very bizarre form of desk yoga. They are also aware that if I don’t take my meds, my joints will swell up to twice their size also. Most importantly, they know that my body is at literal war with itself.
"According Immunology UK (2018), there are approximately four million people in the UK who are living with an autoimmune condition. I have described “Autoimmunity” as nature’s deadliest form of friendly fire – its where the immune system mistakenly misfires and attacks healthy tissue and organs.
"Given this prevalence, the NHS workforce will no doubt be impacted. Thankfully, I have found outstanding support solely through the Corporate IT & Smarter Working Team in particular Jill Norris, Programme Manager – Business Change & Smarter Working- National. Their sole support meant that I could get the equipment I needed to stay in work without going off sick.
"I have benefited from flexible working in the organisation. It allows me to bypass periods where I am feeling unwell, stiff, or just plain nauseous. It also allows me to work where I am at my most productive. It also allows me to manage my hospital appointments well.
"These adjustments are not costly by any means, but they make all the difference. In the context of Disability History Month, we acknowledge the history of our struggle for equality and human rights. Never more so, have our colleagues faced these struggles in their working environments. It is time to appreciate and reflect the on the historical, present, and future impact of reasonable adjustments in keeping disabled colleagues in employment."
Questions about this event?
Name: David Corbin
Telephone: 07783820472General FAQs