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4 October 2023

Team Member Rich's personal Blog - Access To Work

Despite being only 3ft 8in as an adult, I never saw myself as disabled – just someone who faced a few additional challenges in life. At 17, I finally gained my independence when I passed my driving test (I would have taken it at age 16 which is permitted if you have a disability, but I was recovering from surgery).  As a wheelchair user, I could now make my own choices and travel wherever and whenever I wanted. This newfound freedom was life-changing; it allowed me to socialise and travel, and most importantly, be part of the workforce.

The day after receiving my A-level results, I drove to London to begin my first job at a high street bank's head office, I later moved on to work in the civil service and local government. I settled in a rural area of the East Riding and commuted every day to York where I managed the City's Transport Planning Operations department, before a brief interlude to become a 5 times world champion powerlifter and now I’m using my life experiences here at Driffield Mobility.

For disabled individuals, many obstacles can hinder employment opportunities. These barriers range from discriminatory attitudes to physical hindrances, such as inadequate building accessibility and transportation to workplaces.

It's only when I encountered health issues that impaired my independence, that I become acutely aware of my disability and its far-reaching effects on my daily life. In my case, arthritis began to damage my joints in my mid-30s, eventually requiring replacement surgery of my knees, hips, femurs, shoulders, and ankle over the following ten years.

Following each surgery, I was left without independence for months on end, unable to drive or participate in daily activities. It felt like I was back in childhood. The impact became even more disruptive in my 40s, as I had a daughter to raise.

Although I had three years to plan for my recent shoulder replacement, living in a rural area posed a significant problem. However, there are financial and practical resources available to assist individuals with disabilities who want to stay in the workforce but face challenges.

Access To Work Scheme: Helping Disabled Employees and Employers

When I found out that my surgery was imminent my employer, Driffield Mobility reached out to Access To Work for assistance and put me in touch with them and I put in an application for assistance.

Access To Work provides financial support to employers to make necessary workplace adjustments and also offers various services to disabled employees, such as transportation assistance, even for temporary changes to disabilities or temporary limitations to independence such as a broken leg. Thanks to their help, I was able to get taxis funded and return to work so quickly whilst waiting to regain my ability to drive in a few weeks' time.

If you're a disabled individual looking to enter the workforce or already employed but facing challenges, or if you're an employer interested in making your workplace more accessible, check out this summary of the Access To Work Scheme, including useful links to the Government's website.

Summary of the Access to work scheme including transport

The Access to Work scheme is a program run by the UK government that provides support for people with disabilities or health conditions to help them stay in work. It provides financial support for a range of things such as specialised equipment, adaptations to the workplace, and support workers.

One key area of support provided by the Access to Work scheme is transport. This support can include funding for things like taxis, public transport, or even a personal vehicle if it is deemed necessary. The scheme also covers the cost of any adaptations that may need to be made to the transport, such as wheelchair ramps or lifts.

To be eligible for the Access to Work scheme, you must have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to work. You must also be in paid employment, self-employed, or about to start a job. The level of support provided is dependent on individual circumstances, so it is important to apply and discuss your needs with an Access to Work adviser.

For more information on the scheme and to check eligibility requirements and details of when and how to apply visit: