It is important to us that our colleagues feel they can contribute, thrive and be who they are at work. We’re proud to celebrate and highlight all our unique experiences and do the right thing for our colleagues. As we mark International Day of People with Disabilities and focus on their 2020 theme ‘Not all disabilities are visible’, we caught up with two colleagues to hear more about their visible and invisible disabilities, and the affect it has on their lives.
Dan, works in HR and is registered blind:
My sight loss affects my life in a number of ways.
I started to lose my sight at the age of 23, which meant I was registered blind when I joined Hastings Direct in 2019. My loss of sight affects my life in many ways - it means that I am no longer able to see the familiar faces of my family, friends and colleagues at work. I also have to use accessible technology that enables me to do my work at Hastings and am reliant on a cane and my guide dog, Reggie, in order to navigate to the Bexhill office and other local areas.
However, I don’t see my disability having an entirely negative impact on my life, it just means that I have to have a slightly different outlook, and be open and adaptable to change. I see it as a new chapter where I have become more aware of my senses and my reliance on them. I now listen for the familiar voices of my family, friends and colleagues, and have to pay attention to my screen reader at work, as well as use tactile points on the keyboard to touch type. I also have to rely on my sense of hearing to listen for cars when crossing the road safely and my sense of smell to explore and get a sense of my environment.
My sight loss has made me the person I am today and for that I feel very proud.
Our second Colleague lives with an eating disorder – an invisible disability:
At the age of 12, I started skipping meals and throwing food away.
Anorexics can be very secretive. Every time I looked in the mirror I saw a fat girl looking back at me, someone who wasn’t popular at school and didn’t have a boyfriend like my friends. I thought being thinner would give me confidence but quickly found that the thinner I became, the more and more I drew back. I was taken to doctors who didn’t know how to treat anorexia as this was in the 1970s. I visited a dietician who said if I carried on and I couldn’t eat, then I would have to be fed with a drip. I was 5’6” and weighed under seven stone – hearing this frightened me a bit and I started to eat but still in a controlled way. Bulimia started when I went to the fridge one day and ate all the contents and then took a laxative – this continued for the next twenty years.
Due to low self-esteem, I got married at 18 to a man who turned violent, but I managed to leave. I have had many ups and downs throughout my life but am now in a happy place. I am married with a lovely husband, son, a daughter-in-law and two gorgeous granddaughters, and feel very lucky to have them in my life. I also receive much better support for my disability and hope my story helps others.