Patchworker Spotlight: Gem’s story

Patchworker Spotlight: Gem’s story

Gem is a Disabled Content Creator from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Gem kindly spoke to us about her experiences, the growth of her blog, and her thoughts on how employers can make the workplace more accessible.


To start, could you please tell us about yourself?

Hi, I'm Gem. I'm a 3 foot 1 wheelchair-using Northerner working in higher education part-time, as well as creating content. I'm fascinated by people and have made a career out of storytelling people’s assumptions about disability. Additionally, I train people to better communicate with disabled people.

Can you tell us a bit more about your story?

When I was younger, I wasn't quite sure how work would work for me (pardon the pun). Mix that with people staring at me from a young age, my self-esteem was extremely low. It was only when I went to university and met so many different disabled people, that I learned what my key skills were. I also realised the problem was that society was causing barriers, rather than me being different. I graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 in New Media.

After graduating, my first job was an Equality and Diversity Officer role. This was a huge learning curve, and I gained confidence and understanding around where my skill set was (basically, people!) Alongside this, I created a blog, telling stories about how people would react to me and my disability. I would laugh and casually suggest how it could have gone better. Eventually, I created tips and tricks that were shared globally.

I'm so proud of what I've created. It eventually won an award and I developed a business creating bespoke training and providing content for brands. I wouldn't be where I am without the blog - I know that for sure.

Have you faced any workplace barriers due to your situation? Do you think the ‘conventional’ world of work most employers use needs to change?

The main barriers I've experienced are physical and attitudinal. I experience the stereotypical barrier of not being able to get into buildings and toilets. This means that the onus has been on me to organise and prepare. Have a job interview? I better ask if it's accessible and go to the loo beforehand! Secondly, I experience quite intense reactions from non-disabled people. They become nervous, uncomfortable which means I have to use so much energy to “prove” how employable I am.

There are so many barriers I think organisations need to focus on. However, I would say the main thing is to get disabled people into your teams. The only way you will evolve for the better is to include disabled people. That's the only way you'll truly know what you need.

If you could change one thing about the world of work or the way employers saw accessibility, what would it be and why?

I would ask that people anticipate accessibility. You don't have to always know what requirements are needed. However, as long as you know adaptations are probable, you will be so much more welcoming from the start.

What inspired you to start doing the work you currently do?

Honestly - the experiences around me, I couldn't not share what was happening. I knew it was entertaining and that there were subtle lessons people would learn within it.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your career to date?

My biggest lesson is that the people who reject you aren't the people for you. For a long time, I would be so hard on myself and try to be “incredible” to be employable. But actually, when you're disabled it's not just you being interviewed - it's the employer too. They need to suit you, support you and allow you to showcase your skills.

Do you have a favourite quote or personal mantra?

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle.

If you could change one thing about people's perception of disability, what would it be?

That we have interests, sense of humour and bad days (that isn't always disability-related!)

Find out more about Gem’s story:

Gem's blog

Follow Gem on Instagram

Follow Gem on Twitter

Contact Gem on LinkedIn

 

Published: 20th March 2022

All Tags
Accessibility Adaptive fashion Advocacy All Saints Assistive technology Autism Blog Burnout Business Businesses Cancer Candidates Cerebral palsy Characters Charity Charity sector Chronic pain Closed captions Clothes Clothing Companies Company Company Corner Consultant Content designer Data talent Digital transformation Disabilities Disability advocate Disability advocates Disability confident Disability inclusion Disabled Diversity Diversity and inclusion Diversity Recruitment Platform Empowerment Ethnic minorities Fashion Fashion industry Feedback Flexible work Freelance Game Gaming Gareth Walkom Garment technologist Gastrointestinal conditions Guide dog Hybrid working Inclusion Interviews Istituto Marangoni Jack Wills Job descriptions Job interviews Job opportunities Leeds Leeds trinity university LGBTQ+ Maya angelou Meta Metaverse Migrants Musculoskeletal conditions Neurodivergence Neurodivergent Neurodiversity consultant Neurodiversity space Neurotype Neurotypes Partially sighted Phase Eight Phone calls Pirate video games Presentations Primark Public speaking Registered blind Remote work Scope Self-employed Self-employment Shaw trust Shaw trust power 100 list Social mobility Social-emotional learning Social-emotional learning platform Software Speaking situation Speech differences Speech disabilities Speech impediment Spotlight series Spotlight stories Stammering Stories Stuttering Sweaty Betty Tech industry Tech talent TEDx Tesco Unhidden Unhidden Clothing Universities Vanessa Castañeda Gill Victoria Beckham Video game Virtual reality VR Women Work from home Working from home Youth Access to work Accessibility in the workplace Accessibility test Accessible work Acting Adhd Adjustments Administrative Adrian lord Advice Advocacy and campaigns Allparty parliamentary group for inclusive entrepreneurship American civil rights movement Android Anglonorman App Artificial intelligence Bad grammar Barriers to work Bbc Benefits Blind persons act Blue badge Blue badge service specialists Care Career Carer Celtic languages Center on everyday lives of families Ceo Cfs Chloe tear Chronic fatigue syndrome Chronic health condition Chronic illness Community Community story Community, community story, founder, feature, accessible work, disability employment gap, making a difference Companies house Compressed hours Computer science Computers Coronavirus Councils Covid19 Crystal mark standard Deaf Demo Design Dialects Dictionary Digital accessibility Disability Disability discrimination act Disability employment gap Disability rights movement Disability services Disabled peoples direct action network Disabled persons employment act Easy read Email address Employers Employment English English speakers Entrepreneur Entrepreneurship Epilepsy Equality Equality act Equality and diversity Equality of access Esources, disability, disability services, support services, community story, features, adjustments, social support network Eugenics Facebook Feature Features Fibromyalgia First world war Flexi Flexible working Flexitime Flextime Founder Francesco cirillo Freelancing French Gcses Gdpr General data protection regulation Good Good grammar Google Government policy Government support Graduate Graduates Grammar Grammar schools Health Health condition Health conditions Hearing impairment History History of language Holistic Ico Impact Imposter syndrome Inclusive entrepreneur network Inequalities Inequality Information commissioners office Information governance Instagram Internet Jacqueline winstanley Language Latin Law Learning difficulties Lexicographers Limited company Local councils Local government Making a difference Marketing strategy Mecfs Medical conditions Medical model of disability Medical vs social models of disability Medicines Mental health Middle english Mindfulness Mlm Mobility issues Multilevel marketing National league of the blind Neurodiversity Niya Normans Old english Old french Onboarding and retention Online Out of work Oxbridge Parent Passwords Patchwork hub Payment details Planning Planning for work Podcasts Pomodoro Preposition Private schools Psychiatric Psychiatry Punctuation React Reasonable adjustments Recruitment Remote working Resources Resources and support Rest Retinopathy of prematurity Sales Scam Search engine Second world war Shell shock Slang Social Cipher Social interactions Social media Social model of disability Social support network Socialising Spelling Spoken language Standard english Startup State schools Student Students Studying Suffragette movement Support Support services Syntactician Syntax Technology Test Blog The elderly Then barbara met alan Trafalgar square Turkish United nations Universal inclusion University University of arts london University of cambridge University of hertfordshire University of hull University of leeds University of oxford Victoria Jenkins Visual impairment War Ways of working West germanic dialects William shakespeare Windsor consultations WithVR Wordpress Work structure Workforce recruitment Working environment Workplace barriers World war one World war two Young carer

Cookies

By continuing to use this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. For further details, review our Cookie Policy.

Change Settings