Before working in the Bank I spent 15 months in the Department of Energy. My preferred career was banking and I had tried all the High Street Banks but was unable to get past the interview stage. The reason I believe was my speech impediment. I feared that it might put employers off so I always tried to hide my stammer by changing difficult/feared words and using starter sounds like “erm” and “you know”. This was giving the impression that I was a nervous wreck and meant I was unable to get past the interview stage.
What drew you to the Bank of England?
Eventually, I attended a four week course at the City Lit College in London. There I learnt how to live with my stammer and being more open as opposed to being in denial all the time. I then applied for a job in the Bank of England and ticked the box to say that I have a speech disability. This more open approach meant I was relaxed in my interview and was able to be myself. The result was that I was offered a job which I happily accepted. I joined the Bank in March 1988.
What are your daily responsibilities in your role?
For our Team Leader (who is visually impaired) I make sure that his work is well presented, that he is well informed and can operate on a level playing field with sighted members of staff. An example of one of the simpler tasks I do is reading out handwritten letters to him as his screen reading software only reads typed material. I also answer enquiries to members of the public either by telephone, e-mail or post.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I have two disabilities. I am an insulin dependent diabetic and I have a speech impediment. With my diabetes, I normally discreetly test my blood and inject myself at my desk. I also have a speech stammer which varies from being mild to severe. I regularly attend speech therapy courses and help run a self help group where people with a stammer or severe social anxiety practice public speaking.
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
The Bank is very supportive. When my speech problem was particularly bad they gave me leave to attend residential courses and paid towards the treatment costs. When I was first diagnosed with my diabetes I became quite ill and lost 10 kilograms in weight. The Bank’s Occupational Health Unit helped me get the best treatment and continue to support me every time I have problems.
How would you describe the culture at the Bank of England?
The Bank is very keen to be a diverse employer. We have an active Diversity Committee who regularly produces an excellent newsletter. The Bank is very keen to support Diversity. Every year staff have the opportunity to vote for two Charities of the Year and last year I nominated the British Stammering Association (BSA) who are the only registered stammering charity in the UK. After one month of canvassing my colleagues, I was very pleased when the BSA along with another very worthy charity, Crohn’s and Colitis won the election. Due to the financial crisis the BSA was in danger of closing but thanks to the support of the Bank it continues to support both children and adults whose lives are affected by speech disability.