When I got the phone call to say I’d got the job, I cried.

I’d always wanted to get a job. I wanted to give back to my community, learn new skills, and come off the employment and support allowance. For me, getting a job was all about becoming a confident and active member of society.

Rebuilding my confidence

I was a long way from this when I first met the SeeAbility team in 2014. I was a nervous, anxious wreck. I’d had some bad experiences of support in the past, and I was in a really bad place emotionally. I wouldn’t even walk down to the shops on my own. My confidence was in pieces.

Gradually, SeeAbility’s support helped me to rebuild my confidence. They knew the best way to support me, and they were always there to encourage me through those difficult few years.

But what I really wanted was a job. I’d applied for lots of jobs in the past, but I was unsuccessful every time. In some ways I think this was because of my disability, but it was also because I was so low on confidence.

Grace stands outside the Bank of England in a pink coat, holding a pink umbrella. ItGetting experience

In late 2018, I helped SeeAbility with a presentation to the Bank of England staff that explained to them how they could improve their accessibility. They were really impressed and invited me to join them for a week-long work placement. I jumped at the chance. It was a big moment for me, as it made me realise how far I’d come - had I been offered the placement four years ago, I would have turned it down.

When I was at the Bank of England I learnt all about the office environment and what people to day-to-day, but equally I helped them learn how to deal with accessibility issues. I did another presentation to them and I think it really helped them to understand all the issues. I think they got as much out of it as I did.

Finally...

In April I saw there was an opportunity to work for SeeAbility as an Eye Care Champion, helping people with learning disabilities to access good eye care. I had to apply. The job was everything I loved doing – presentations, talks, raising awareness. One of my support team, Gail, helped me to fill out the application, and then I had an interview. That was really nerve-wracking. I’d never had a job interview before. I came out of it feeling as though I’d done well, but it was a strange experience.

A few weeks later I got the news. I was sitting in a coffee shop in Victoria Station when I got the phone call to say I’d got the job. I cried. It made me feel ecstatic because other people were thinking so highly of me. It made me feel so good that people think that I can do things. But that’s SeeAbility for you – they see ability.

SeeAbility’s support changed everything – not just practically, but emotionally as well. Before their support, I wouldn’t even go down to the shops on my own. Now I have a paid job. That’s the difference SeeAbility’s support makes.

Grace sits in the garden and smiles at the camera. She is in a bright pink top