0.00.06 Hello, my name’s Elaine W. I’m the training coordinator business support officer for Birmingham Disability Resource Centre. The job involves working and supporting obviously the business manager. My job is to deliver training, to put training packages together and this training is around disability equality training which goes out to businesses and organisations to teach them about disability equality issues and the Disability Discrimination Act. And I’m also responsible for the training needs of the staff based at the Centre.
00.00.49 Going back to when I was at school, my last school was a school for disabled children. And I’m going back to the 1970s here and they weren’t very encouraging about the prospects of finding work. So basically I left school and went straight to college and took secretarial type skills because I’d had imprinted in me that as a disabled person it was highly unlikely I would get a job and if I did, it would have to be sat behind a desk.
00.01.25 I was there for a year and after I left there basically had to start looking for a job. But a lot of the time I got rejections from jobs. Replies like, ‘You wouldn’t be able to manage working here’. They were telling me what I could do and what I couldn’t do. ‘You wouldn’t be able to manage in our building etc’, and I ended up giving up basically. So ended up going back to college again which was a college down in Exeter.
00.01.58 And again, I still took secretarial type skills and built-up on what I already got but by then the lecturers were telling you, you can go out a get a job. Suddenly coming from a school and a college where you were told that there wasn’t much chance of you getting a job because you were disabled person to going to college where they’re telling you, ‘Right, you can get a job. You’re here to learn to the skills to do that’, and there was two particular lecturers that I worked with that they worked together and they were the ones that were instilling it into all the people in the classes that there is a big world out there and you can go out and get employment and it doesn’t have to mean that you can’t just because you’re a disabled person.
00.02.46 And when I left the college I went to the Employment Centre and within a couple of months I’d actually got my first job with Coventry Social Services. And I was with them for 16 years. The sort of setbacks and obstacles I faced along the way have been, a lot of it certainly at the beginning, has been attitude. Certainly like I was saying back in the 1970s etc., the attitude was you’re disabled, you’re not going to be independent and couldn’t get a job etc.
00.03.24 But throughout the rest of my career it has been really mainly attitudes but as I’ve got older I’ve got more confidence. I’ve become a lot more independent and I’ve got a mind of my own so when I face an attitude I deal with it and I challenge some of these people’s ideas and what have you, which is partly why I wanted to be a trainer, to challenge a lot of these attitudes.