Meet Emily, our first influencer with lived experience
Emily says she has always been a determined person. When faced with a situation that isn’t easy for her she either finds a way around the problem or asks someone to help find a solution. Emily’s can do attitude combined with the support and encouragement she gets from her manager Scott (SeeAbility’s Head of Engagement) has meant she has achieved things in the past year that have surpassed even her own high expectations.
Taking the first step
Emily has proved to be an effective lobbyist in her volunteer post as one of SeeAbility’s first Associates. Motivated by her desire to help other people with learning disabilities and visual impairment have a better quality of life, she has learnt how to effectively challenge and educate others to make changes in society so that everyone regardless of their disability feels included.
"Being an Associate has helped me to understand people. That not everyone thinks in the same way. Realising that everyone is different and taking time to listen and understand what everyone has to say. It might not be big for somebody else but for that individual it is important."
Her work with fellow associates ranges from helping the Government with their Covid-19 NHS track and track app to ensure it works for people with learning disabilities; writing a mini manifesto calling on candidates running in the 2019 General Election to make inclusion a reality; to giving lectures in universities. Emily has shown how much she can achieve despite living day-to-day with her own tough set of challenges.
Plenty of challenges
Her already limited eyesight has deteriorated further – Emily can no longer see the bright pink walls that she asked to be painted in her room at SeeAbility’s Barclay House, and recently her mobility has worsened so she currently spends most of her time in a wheelchair. The Covid-19 pandemic has also added another huge set of concerns, worries and restrictions to her life and she especially misses going out to meet, socialise with and hug her friends.
Yet through it all, Emily has remained committed to her role as an advocate for change and her hard work has now been rewarded. Emily has been appointed SeeAbility’s first ever ‘Influencer’. Aged 34, this is her first paid job – an achievement she is incredibly proud of. She knows it proves to all those who never thought it was possible, including her mum, that with the right support and personal drive, living with disabilities does not have to reduce your horizons.
"I’ve always been determined. I don’t like not doing something. If the brain says I’m going to do it, that’s it. Some days it’s a challenge. But you can either sit back and go oh no I can’t do that or you can get up and go I might not be able to do it that way but I can do it this way. Or ask for someone to help you find a way."
Emily is motivated in her new role to pass on many of the skills she has learnt as an associate to others. She is also taking on more responsibilities. One of her first significant pieces of work is to lead the process for SeeAbility feeding into the Government’s consultation on the national strategy for disabled people. This and further projects in the coming months are giving Emily the opportunity to raise people’s voices who otherwise might not be heard – a mission that she says is very important to her.
"Giving people a voice is so important. In my new job I want to make a difference and a first thing is making sure the government hear our needs."
Are you looking for help to start your working life? Or are you a company that wants to be more inclusive in who you hire? Get in touch with our Ready, Willing and Able Supported Employment team.