I won’t be held back by my disability

Sarah Woods

Young disabled people feel more uncertain than ever about entering the world of work. But the right approaches can make all the difference. Sarah Woods tells us how she won her confidence back after leaving work due to anxiety. 

Sarah Wood outside her workplace

My name is Sarah, I’m 23 and I graduated from university during the pandemic with a BSc (Honours) Degree in Geography. I have had quite severe anxiety all my life.

I managed to secure my first job around eight months after graduating. But it was my anxiety that caused an extreme lack of confidence and constant worry inside and outside of work. I was always doubting myself and my abilities. 

I felt like I was going to feel confident

I have rarely let my anxiety stop me from achieving my goals. However even after being in the role for five weeks and with a lot of help and support from them, my anxiety continued to make me extremely nervous. I felt like I was never going to feel confident. 

I decided to leave as I thought it would be best for not only my mental health but also for them as it would allow them to find someone new.

Working with Leonard Cheshire

I was referred to Leonard Cheshire by my work coach at the job centre and had my initial assessment soon after this. From the moment I spoke to Sandra at the assessment stage, she made me feel comfortable and was very understanding of my anxiety. 

After leaving my job, I began to feel even less confident in myself and my anxiety surrounding work started to get worse. I dreaded application forms and was dismissing many jobs as soon as I saw something I thought would make me anxious. I was worried I would end up in the same situation again. However, Sandra’s positivity, understanding and kindness has made me feel optimistic. I knew then that there was a role out there for me. 

I have found Sandra’s advice and encouragement on searching for jobs very helpful. I always feel hopeful that my anxiety will not hold me back in my next role. Sandra has made me aware that for many jobs, there are adjustments that can be put in place for my anxiety. this has helped me feel that there are jobs out there I can do.

Looking to the future

This programme so far has been beneficial for me as it has made me feel positive about finding a job. I've realised that I am more capable than I believed I am. 

In fact, it was through Changing Futures that I was introduced to the Kickstart programme, which has secured me a job placement that I love. It goes to show that with some support and adjustments at work, nothing will hold me back.

Still Locked Out

Governments and businesses have adapted to the challenges presented by the pandemic. However, many key barriers to disabled people finding and staying in meaningful employment unfortunately remain.

The government must act now to ensure that disabled people aren’t left behind both during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Read our Still Locked Out report