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Awards highlight a route out of workplace discrimination

Awards highlight a route out of workplace discrimination
5th December 2018 Ian Streets

In one of those “cloud and silver lining scenarios” celebrations were definitely in order for the recent Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs, but among some they were muted because the whole process highlights the issues of accessibility at work.
Writing in the Independent, James Moore makes the point that the awards probably received a record number of entries this year because necessity is the mother of invention – disabled people may be more tempted to set up their own businesses because of the obstacles they face when trying to work for someone else.
He says that the difference between the pay of disabled workers and non-disabled workers stands at about 30 percentage points and has barely changed in 10 years. He also reminds readers that disabled people can attend tens or even hundreds of interviews before they find an employer who sees the person rather than the disability.
All these points are completely valid, as is the observation that the disabled community offers a ready market for disabled entrepreneurs because it is so poorly served by conventional businesses. It follows then that disabled entrepreneurs may struggle to win the confidence of vital sources of support, such as banks.
So to the awards. And the winner is…Josh Wintersgill, a cyber-security manager from Bristol who set up Able Move, creating a sling which helps disabled people to transfer safely, comfortably and with dignity to and from aeroplane seats.
Josh, who won £30,000, has spinal muscular atrophy and said he is determined to help disabled people overcome the difficulties associated with travel. His idea was always going to appeal to easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who set up the awards in partnership with Leonard Cheshire.
Four other finalists each won £10,000 and the recognition that will hopefully raise awareness of their ingenuity and determination.
Samona Williams, who was given a five per cent chance of survival after being diagnosed with Ehlers Danos, told how she “built a cast iron mind in a weak body” to launch her CocoaToThrill chocolate boutique in London.
Rachel Shapey, a secondary school teacher from Stockport, was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago and reached the shortlist for launching her online music education platform I Can Compose.
The line-up was completed by Paralympic swimmer Mark Williams, who lost a leg in a car accident at the age of 10 and has launched Limb-Art, a business which makes covers for prosthetic legs. It’s about shape, style and standing out in a crowd for the right reasons.
Nick Lock, a baker from Barnstaple, reached the final five for turning Trevisick’s Pie Emporium into the first business of its kind to be certified palm oil free. The media activity around Nick doesn’t actually reveal details of his disability; it concentrates instead on the things he can do.
To find out more about the inspirational achievements and about next year’s Stelios Awards visit www.leonardcheshire.org
Here’s the full article from James Moore: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/disabled-entrepreneurs-business-uk-scheme-stelios-invention-a8590111.html

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