“Please Sir, can I have a job?”
Steven Green, London
I have multiple disabilities that include mobility post-traumatic stress disorder and dyslexia. After a long period of mental illness, I reflected on what I would like to do with my remaining 21 years in the workplace.
After much deliberation I decided to re-enter full time education to train as a teacher in the post-16 sector. Anybody who has completed teacher training or a PGCE will tell you it’s a long, hard slog.
Throughout my training I kept my incapacity benefit for my disabilities. I need a very complicated operation on my spine – and even that may fail to take away the pain I experience.
Upon completion of my PGCE, I entered the minefield that is the job market – the reams of paperwork and compliance checks, all of them necessary so that I can go out into a classroom and teach.
I wasn’t confident that I would find work, being middle aged and disabled. I applied to work through agencies but I became jaded with their promises.
It made me realise how it must have felt for the stevedores and others who queued up to be chosen to work for a day in the 1920s.
Time passes by – days turn into weeks. But before they can turn into months, I receive a call – there is a job for me, with hours to suit. It was like winning the lottery I was so pleased.
I knew I would have to contact the DWP as I had found a job – I did, and told them of my part time hours. I was told it would have to go to the ‘decision maker’. I waited and waited. In the meantime I had to miss the dreaded medical because I was scheduled to teach at that time.
One day I came home from work and there was a letter explaining that my incapacity benefit would be stopped from November. The issue is whether I was carrying out ‘permitted work’ – but this had never been mentioned to me.
They sent me a form to fill in – more fun for a dyslexic! I’m broke – physically, mentally and financially. I have had to reclaim housing benefit.
I find myself on one hand a highly valued teacher, but on the other marginalised and under scrutiny. Not for the first time in my life, I’m in a position where I could find myself homeless.
I’m still available for work, should any arise that I can do with my disability. Please Sir, can I have a job?