Rebecca's significant achievement finds her working in her dream job

Rebecca overcame many barriers to start working in her dream job, helping to bring awareness about eye care to other people like herself with learning difficulties. This marks the start of her first time within paid employment, something she never thought she would achieve.

Rebecca’s biggest barrier to overcome was her fear of change, so much so that when talking about moving into paid employment, she felt she would need a buzzer and to be able to shout for help in the new job. It was explained to Rebecca that this might not be practical for a number of reasons, but Rebecca was insistent that was what she needed. It was discussed with Rebecca, like any other employee in a new job she would still have the ability to ask for help, but that each company would have a different procedure in place to allow her to do this. Rebecca’s adviser Suzanne therefore helped her develop new habits for a variety of tasks, so that when she was ready to move into work, she was already used to dealing with change.

Rebecca’s fear of change was built around routines and habits that had been a way of helping her to reduce stress levels when she was growing up. These routines were a coping mechanism to ensure she knew everything would be ok. To help her overcome this barrier, small adjustments were made to her routine to start with, such as meeting at a slightly different times or going to the cafe down the street instead of the usual one. Later work was done on changing appointments from Mondays to another day in the week and meeting at completely different locations.

Rebecca took on this challenge and started volunteering in Accrington Mall Museum Shop. There were times when change wasn't easy for Rebecca, but she had a strong Circle of Support© around her to give her the help she needed through constant reassurance, but her support network were delighted in the small steps she made toward progress. Whilst working to help Rebecca overcome her fear of change; something also needed to be done on her expected behaviours in work, looking at how she instinctively might respond to a situation and how a manager would expect her to respond. To help with this Rebecca and her case worker Suzanne looked into coping strategies, especially around frustration and patience, once again taking it slowly, one step at a time. Rebecca was so determined to gain employment that sometimes she would want to get to the end goal, without realising the importance of the smaller steps that would get her to her end goal.

Having done so much work to overcome her barriers, Rebecca now just needed the right job where she could practice her new skills. Rebecca wanted to show the world that although having a disability can create some barriers that can be really tough to manage; learning to manage those barriers can make you much more determined and able to achieve your goal.

Finding the right job for her was tricky, but Rebecca’s case worker Suzanne thought she had found it when she came across the job advert for SeeAbility. The job title was Eye Care Champion, and they were looking for a person with lived experience of a learning disability, who would go out with another member of staff and educate the carers, support workers and families of others who have learning disabilities about the importance of eye care. The role would involve understanding barriers that people with learning disabilities experience when attending appointments, wearing glasses and the difficulty that family members may have in picking up on issues with sight in children with learning disabilities. In addition to this, the role would allow a person with a learning disability to educate and influence the organisation to help it to become more accessible to the people that they support and employ, such as helping edit documents so that they are Easy Read.

The role seemed perfect for Rebecca's passion for promoting the need for equality for those with disabilities. When completing the application form, they were able to refer back to the great work that Rebecca had done with the charities, and also the journey that she had been on to overcome some of her own barriers, and how in turn she had a good understanding of how she could help others with theirs.

Rebecca was extremely excited to be invited for an interview, but was quite nervous on the actual day but practiced some of her coping strategies around keeping calm and remaining focussed. At the interview, one interviewer attended in person and two others attended by Skype. This might have once worried Rebecca as it was a situation that she had never been in before, but with Rebecca’s new found confidence with managing change she didn't react to this unexpected element of the interview.

During the interview, Rebecca was able to give really detailed responses to the interview questions and again with the techniques she had learnt, she was able to review the question in her mind and explaining her answers clearly. Rebecca was also able to give a fantastic overview of the working of the eye that she had remembered from school, which really impressed the interview panel.

Rebecca was extremely pleased to find out that she had been offered the job and that her dream had come true; she had proved to the world that having a learning difficulty didn’t mean that she would never work in paid employment as it had once been suggested. Rebecca could now go out and educate employers, carers, nurses, schools and services, just as she had wanted.

Rebecca had to then take on a whole host of new worries, when would she start, what would she wear, where would she be based. All of the coping strategies that she had developed over the last year helped her manage this step by step.

In her first day of work, Rebecca enjoyed it every bit as she imagined she would. Rebecca now feels that she has not just a job, but a career with SeeAbility. Rebecca's key achievements were her volunteering; her determination to make a difference to the lives of others, her new found ability to deal with change and her determination to prove herself. Rebecca is now able to share with others her experience proving that their journey may not be easy, but can be manageable. The difference that Kennedy Scott’s Specialist Employability Support has made to Rebecca is huge, which is thanks to the funding received from the European Social Fund.