Jacqueline Winstanley

Jacqueline Winstanley BSc hons
CEO Universal Inclusion UK
Board Member GGEC

The Access to Work award in the Uk offers a lifeline for disabled people who may otherwise be unable to enter or remain in the workplace.

Whilst it is, as, I write facing some significant challenges following a recent restructure it is a flagship response from govt to its commitment to the rights of disabled people to work in the Uk.

The Aim of the Award quite simply, is to work with the Disabled person to identify the support that is required to enable them to look for, take up employment or self employment .

The support can be put in place to provide:
fares to work if you can’t use public transport
a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace
a support service if you have a mental health condition and you’re absent from work or finding it difficult to work
disability awareness training for your colleagues
a communicator at a job interview
the cost of moving your equipment if you change location or job

It offers whole range of support mechanisms to enable the disabled person to look for , stay in or create their own self employed work, often at little or no cost to the employer / self employed person.

It is favoured by disabled people as it is not a disability related benefit and therefore does not have the same stigma associated with it.

When it works well it provides disabled people with a route out of chronic poverty and enables them to not only have, but achieve their aspirations .

It challenges the perception of society in relation to the roles that Disabled people want to take up and are increasingly doing so as this support is put into place.

It supports the likes of Julie Fernandez an Actress , Media expert and entrepreneur , who in turn employs 13 people , Mike Newman the Blind Land and Water Speed Guinness World Record holder to name just a few of the inspirational people this award is helping.

It is intended to be a flexible, individual response to the needs of the person at that time in the task they are undertaking and in particular is opening up the world of work for people with hidden and fluctuating conditions as it albeit slowly begins to understand the need to support the management and pacing aspects of such conditions.

It has enabled a ground swell of disabled entrepreneurs and whilst the recent restructure within the administration of the award has presented some challenges in this area , I am confident , if disabled entrepreneurs are take a lead on the future of support in this area the results will bring about sustainable and life changing opportunities for Disabled people in the UK.

At last count in the UK from April-December 2013 it had 9,240 new customers and 4,930 individuals continue to benefit from support via the award.

Whilst this figure is welcome there are calls for the program to be doubled , made simpler and more flexible to assist the estimated 6.9 million disabled people of working age in the Uk ( MPH group ).

The potential for reducing the number of people on disability related benefits through this award is massive, will all of the positive knock on effects that would bring ,but only if the initial and true intent of the award is maintained which was born out of innovation, flexibility , trust , ease of application and management .

It is hoped that the current Select committee investigation into the Access to work award will facilitate a lead role for disabled people in taking this valuable service forward and the creation of a Business, Enterprise and Innovation dept for disabled people which will ensure substantial Inclusive Economics Growth and the resultant positive impact on the Economy whilst transforming the lives of Disabled people .