Paula developed Chronic Fatigue and didn’t work for almost 2 years.
She lost confidence and thought her career in research was gone – along with her income.
She plucked up the courage to ask Into Work for help.
After some work on her self-esteem, self-awareness and knowledge of The Equality Act within employment law, Paula took control of her working life again and has a new part-time job in academic research.
The full story
Paula experiences chronic fatigue and hadn’t worked for almost 2 years. With a background in academic research she had previous contacts in her field and in fact a potential interview offer – but she couldn’t feel excited by this due to fear and apprehension. She had no idea how to bring up her condition with any new employer and talk about workplace adjustments. Also by the time she tentatively came to Into Work she was feeling very low and lacking in confidence about the prospect of ever using her qualifications or paying her mortgage again and was not sure what to expect from us at all.
She and her Employment Adviser worked together using different tools – to help her reflect on her skills and abilities as well as recognise what was realistic in terms of work hours, environment and travel to help prevent any relapse and achieve a useful work/life balance. This knowledge giving her a feeling of control again.
Paula wanted to be able to communicate directly with the employer so her Employment Adviser, having helped her recognise her worth, also helped her understand her right to ask for adjustments and see that these could be quite reasonable requests. She was also coached about how to approach the subject and at which point in the recruitment process to make sure she was protected by The Equality Act. This gave her the confidence to go for it.
Paula has now been in post 4 months and can admit that she is still finding 20 hours a week a challenge. She also has to remain confident and remind her boss about her needs when they are forgotten on occasion. But the will is there for it to work and it’s a learning curve for both parties. She also has the continued support of her Into Work Employment Adviser with access to regular meetings to discuss work and how best to support herself and communicate with colleagues.
I was very scared when I came to Into Work. I felt completely despondent and scared that my health problems meant I’d never be able to use my qualifications or pay my mortgage again. But Into Work didn’t try to push me into stacking shelves. They worked really, really hard to persuade me that I still had a lot to offer work and to boost myself respect enough that I could put on a suit, go back on the job market and negotiate reasonable adjustments when I got the offer.
I’ve now been in post 4 nearly months. Physically, I do find working 20 hours a week hard, and sticking up for myself when my bosses don’t understand my condition is challenging. But I’m not on my own with that. Into Work have provided regular meetings where we discuss what’s going on at work and how I can best support myself and communicate with colleagues.