How did you get started in your career and what drew you to the organisations you have worked for?
I actually started volunteering at Back Up back in 2007 and volunteered and worked short term on and off there over the years while I was training and competing with the British Disabled Ski Team. They supported me when I first broke my back in 2004 so have always been close to my heart and it was great to give something back and keep my CV ticking over while I was competing. When I retired from competition there was a role there and although at first I thought I might try to do something different, it just seemed like the right fit at the right time.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I currently work 4 days a week. My role means that I do have a bit of travelling to do. The office I work in is fully accessible with a disabled toilet. I don’t have any special equipment but there is always an option of having a desk that moves up or down different technical equipment to make life easier. I occasionally get public transport into work but generally drive and there is parking outside. My body does get stiff when I’m at a desk for a while so I make sure I get outside and go for a push or if I really need to have a stretch in a meeting room!
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Back Up is a fantastic place to work and there has always been a great atmosphere. Work life balance is important and part of the ethos in the office. There is lots of opportunity for flexi work hours and working from home.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
My advice would be to not see your disability as something that is going to hold you back. If you can’t see past it then your employer or potential employer isn’t going to be able to. You know if you are capable of a job so go for it and quite often having a disability is going to have given you some other great personality traits. Also be open and honest about what your needs might be - there are so many ways that you can get over obstacles, such as working from home and flexi time.
How do you manage a work-life balance?
I have lots of interest outside of work. Having been a skier for 8 years working in an office took a bit of getting used to. I make sure that I make the most of the time I have off, be that cycling, water skiing or getting back to the mountains for a bit of skiing (even if its not the 8 months on snow I’m used to!) I also try and do things in the evenings after work. I’m lucky that I’m in a social office so there is always something going on such as watching sport with my team!
What have you done with your annual leave from work in the last year?
I recently set up a charity, Access Adventures, with a couple of friends. We take people with a physical disability on adventure camps, help them see what is achievable and allow them to participate in an extreme sport that they may have thought isn’t possible for them to do. We have only run a few camps but there is a lot of potential and we are learning as we go along. It has meant that a lot of my annual leave has been spent checking out sports venues, and taking ourselves on adventures. A highlight being kitesurfing in Greece, with our first Kite Camp to run in June. I would love to see this as my main job one day but for now I love being at Back Up and there is lots of potential to progress and for personal improvement. There are also plenty more adventures to be had on more Holidays!