MPs from across the country are working to help raise the profile of disabled people in the workplace within their own constituencies.
Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper, recently urged every MP to host a disability employment event in their area to provide an opportunity to showcase the skills of disabled people at work whilst also encouraging businesses to tap into this pool of talent.
To date, over 30 MPs have signed up to host an event in this area including Chloe Smith, MP for North Norwich (where John Grooms Court is based) and Mark Harper who recently held an event in his constituency.
The event featured business and charity sector speakers from across the Gloucestershire area and a former participant on BBC1’s The Apprentice, Pamela Uddin who shared her personal experiences of being a disabled employee and the significant impact that reasonable adjustments can make in the workplace.
Harper said: ‘With record employment and almost 700,000 vacancies in the economy today, employers should be making the most of the talent that exists among disabled people in this country. I want to see disabled people able to take full advantage of our growing economy and jobs on offer, and that’s why I want my fellow MPs hold a disability employment event in every Parliamentary constituency.
‘This isn’t just about doing what’s right, it’s about recognising that diverse workplaces are stronger workplaces and that means more dynamic and stronger businesses to drive forward our economic recovery.’
Nearly 7 million people of working age in the UK are disabled or have a health condition and historically there has been a large gap between the numbers of disabled people in work compared with their non-disabled counterparts. According to a 2013 survey, 2 in 5 of disabled people looking for work said one of the biggest barriers they faced was the attitude of employers.
Through the Disability Confident campaign, The Government hopes that it can help employers to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfill their potential and realise their aspirations.
Kayleigh Walters, Service User Involvement Officer at Livability, who has a disability, said: ‘It is vital for disabled people to have access to employment and the workplace, not only for the benefit of employers but for the benefit of disabled people themselves and to bring about a wider change in social attitudes towards disability.
‘The opportunity for employment would not only increase their confidence but also their self-worth, as well as becoming part of the community they would be earning a wage rather than living solely off benefits. Additionally, for other people to work alongside disabled people means extending their knowledge on the disabled community and working with people they have never worked with before; and for employers it is a chance to witness, learn and benefit from new and unique skills and experiences.’