Victoria Clutton, a 38-year-old woman has finally found a job – after a 20-year search – thanks to a ground-breaking UK charity. Despite being a Mathematics and Computer Science graduate from Lincoln, she has chased countless positions during a two-decade-long job-hunt that almost left her homeless. Now, thanks to Astriid, a charity championing the UK’s long-term ill who are neglected by employers, Victoria has secured her first-ever job as a communications coordinator for a global engineering company.
She said: “I took several long breaks from my studies because my health was so up and down and at one stage the medication, I was on meant that I regularly slept up to 22 hours a day. Despite this, I was deemed fit for work and the Jobcentre declared that I could work from home. But without any employment history or skills to offer, I couldn’t find a suitable position that could fit my additional needs, so I was unable to support myself financially – I struggled to buy food and nearly lost my home.” Victoria’s condition causes pain, extreme fatigue, sensory overload and on very bad days, brain fog which can mean she is unable to concentrate or even speak.
Despite suffering the debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/ME since the age of 16, Victoria was determined to find work. With the grit to continue persevering her career dreams, Victoria stuck at her degree course for 14 years before graduating with The Open University.
In England, around 15million children and adults live with a chronic disease according to the Department of Health. Astriid estimates that across the UK, there are hundreds of thousands of people with a wide range of qualifications, skills and experience, but are excluded from the national workforce because of long-term medical conditions. The charity says that if business leaders change attitudes towards inclusion and diversity practices, health issues are no obstacle to successful and productive employment.
(Article by Astriid, the charity using its online platform to pair chronically ill workers with inclusive employment opportunities that match their talents and requirements)