One of our London-based mentors, Emilia, is featured in the latest newsletter from Scope – the disability equality charity. Emilia works for the Cabinet Office. She has two degrees, an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a masters in Criminal Psychology. She is currently training to be a qualified solicitor. Emilia is visually impaired from birth due to ocular albinism. Emilia is a volunteer mentor with LOOK and we’re thrilled that she has been been profiled.

Interview with Emilia Support to Work 
Emilia works for the Cabinet Office. She has two degrees, an undergraduate degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice and a masters in Criminal Psychology. Before working for the Cabinet Office, Emilia worked for the council., in charities, hospitals and prisons. She is also disabled. Emilia has been partially sighted since birth due to ocular albinism. As on albino block woman, Emilia also faces additional. challenges in her life due to stigma and negative attitudes. 

Congratulations on your Masters! How does it feel to graduate from such a demanding course? Thank you so much, I feel very proud of myself. I have come such a long way and to finish is a massive achievement. I have accomplished so many things in those two years, improving my self-esteem being one of them. 

Before your Masters, you faced discrimination in the workplace, being unfairly dismissed. Can you tell us more about this? What advice would you give to anyone else in a similar situation? I was wining with on organisation and had mentioned both in my application form, and during the training, that I hod a visual impairment. They seemed to have taken this into consideration. 
During the training I struggled with the font size on the computer and reading the information on the board. I was told that because I only hod a temporary contract, reasonable adjustments for me would be too costly. I was made to feel I was being o disturbance, which affected my performance and my confidence. If I hod known that adjustments would not be put in place, I would not have done the training. My advice for others is to be consistent with getting the support you need and to seek advice from professionals who can support you in receiving the adjustments you need. 

After this, you engaged with Scope's Support to Work service. How did the team help you and what happened next? I didn't realise it was going to hove as massive on impact as it has now. My adviser helped me to apply for jobs that I didn't thilk I could apply for. We focused on supporting statements, and my adviser helped me really understand how to answer the question. Reading the question, breaking it down, and answering it ki the way that they wont you to. In July 2019 I started working as on Operation Support Grade for Brixton Prison. My adviser molly helped me with my application form and supporting me in the next steps of the recruitment journey. 

How would you describe life before and after Scope's Support to Work service? Before, I was only applying for jobs within my comfort zone. Support to Work improved my confidence with things like job hunting and writing supporting statements, so I was able to push myself and apply for organisations like the Civil Service and the Metropolitan Police. 
What do you think ore some of the biggest barriers disabled people face finding employment? The recruitment process and employers' attitudes are two big barriers. Also there needs to be more individuals with a disability involved in the recruitment process. There are a lot of organisations out there who support disabled people into work, but once in work, I think there should at least be a buddy system in place that is specifically designed to help the individual with their role. 
We often hear from disabled people looking for work, that they don't feel confident Why do you think that is? And how's your confidence these days? I think it's because of previous experience in job roles, or maybe the blatant stigma of having a disability in the first place. My confidence will always be something that I need to work on. It is getting better but I have moments where I doubt myself a lot. I find it really difficult asking for help. But I'm learning that asking doesn't make you less of a person, or mean that you cannot do your role. 

How is it working for the Cabinet Office? The Cabinet Office has been amazing, and I have been so impressed with how they have supported me in terms of reasonable adjustments. My colleagues have never mode me feel any different because of my vision, and management have been outstanding. From the beginning, they have always supported me. For example. My manager suggested in my email signature I could request all emails to me be in large 16 font size. I never thought of doing that before.

Interview with Emilia Support to Work 

I am currently a Listening Volunteer with the Samaritans, a mentor for LOOK UK, which is a charity that supports visually impaired people through monitoring, and I'm also currently doing my qualifications to become a solicitor. I would like to do more speaking events in 2023. 

Support to Work is available to anyone aged 16 years or over, living in England or Wales. and looking for a paid job. You will need to have access to internet, email and telephone. 
Our friendly advisers will listen to your challenges and give specific advice for your situation. With in-depth knowledge and experience they can support you with many aspects of looking for paid work. 

Once you start on the service. You will have access to vacancies through our online job board from partner organisations, recruiters, and employers who are committed to employing more disabled people. 

Find out more, and how to apply, here: support-to-work/ Or scan the OR code below: 

What are reasonable adjustments? The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make reasonable adjustments that enable a disabled person to work; to have equal opportunity and eliminate discrimination. These can include: Adapted or additional equipment such as chairs, keyboards or voice recognition software Changes to the work environment such as lowering desks, using daylight bulbs or modifying entrances Flexible working Working from home Compressed hours 
To find out more about reasonable adjustments, visit Scope's website: reasonable-adjustments-at-work/

A link to the pdf of the newsletter is at the end of this post. The profile of Emilia is on pages 5 & 6.