A new UK initiative has been launched that helps employees who are directly or indirectly affected by disability. Ability@Page which was created by PageGroup (a worldwide leader in specialist recruitment) is referred to internally as OpenPage and champions a diverse, multicultural and inclusive workforce that helps employees through consistent, internal communications campaigns.
PageGroup hopes to show its commitment to disability and aims to remove all barriers: physical, technological and attitudinal. In particular, it seeks to raise awareness and encourage conversation on mental health. The OpenPage team has now created a series of documentary style profiles of colleagues with their own disability related stories and how the company’s partnerships have helped them dramatically. Services such as the Business Disability Forum, Vitality for general wellbeing and an Employee Assistant Programme for confidential advice ensure all areas of support are covered.
“Ability@Page has been a powerful launch which has generated some incredible feedback from people who were moved by reading the real-life stories,” says Sheri Hughes, associate director of OpenPage at PageGroup. “It shows that disability, whatever the form, resonates with so many of us. One in three people are disabled or close to someone who is and we want to encourage employees to engage in these conversations much more openly.”
“We are predominantly focusing on non-visible disabilities like mental health to encourage employees to address and seek help through our Employee Assistant Programme,” she continues. “Reading the real-life stories and feeling like they aren’t alone means taking that initial step is a lot less daunting.”
In an example of one of the inspirational profiles, Bridget Wilson, business partner at Page Personnel and an ambassador for Ability@Page said,
“Addressing my mental health problem initially was the hardest part, but once I did, it was a weight off my shoulders. I was referred to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions through PageGroup’s healthcare partner and over time, I started to feel normal again. I’m proud to be an ambassador for this fantastic initiative, simply knowing that I can provide my peers with first-hand advice and help improve the lives of others around me.”
I think that the more awareness people have of disability, whether this is visible or invisible, the more equality and support can be gained. If people have the confidence to share their own real life experiences, it will mean their colleagues and managers will know what obstacles and barriers have been or still need to be overcome or removed.
By Ashish Prabhu