Patchworker Spotlight: Jacqueline’s story

Patchworker Spotlight: Jacqueline’s story

Jacqueline is Founder and CEO of Universal Inclusion and The Inclusive Entrepreneur Network, an internationally recognised business that furthers equality of access to life’s opportunities. Jacqueline kindly spoke to us about her company, her experiences and her vision for the world of inclusivity.


 

To start, could you please tell us about yourself?

Hi, I’m Jacqueline. I navigate complex health conditions as a Founder and CEO of Universal Inclusion and The Inclusive Entrepreneur Network.

Can you tell us a bit more about your story?

I’m one of the lucky ones who are able to do the things I’m passionate about within a portfolio career increasing equality of access to life's opportunities. My working career has been quite a journey. During my earlier career, I designed and opened one of the first inclusive play and childcare settings in the UK. This was in response to disabled children and their families being denied access due to accessibility barriers. Following this, I was enticed to take the blueprint I developed and work within local government to expand the model across the country. After this success, I influenced government policy on short break care for disabled children, young people and their families.

However, I developed a health condition at the height of my career within local government which sadly led to me no longer holding the job I loved. This became the catalyst for my return to entrepreneurship and my current portfolio. Amongst other things, this includes the creation of the Inclusive Entrepreneur Network, and I currently serve as the Secretariat to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Entrepreneurship.

Within these roles, I’ve been fortunate to share my good practice internationally at conferences, such as the Windsor Consultations and the United Nations in New York. Here, my unique approach and proven track record are not only cited as an exemplar but included in international policy development and guidelines for good practice. This approach is built on lived experience, key partner cross-sector collaboration, academic validation and the creation of sustainable, holistic, inclusive working practice. All this is sprinkled with my creation of poetry academic and fiction writing.

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

Yes. At the height of my career, I developed complex health conditions and I could no longer hold the job that I loved. In response to my lived experience and that of others, I realised that things needed to change, and decided I was going to change them.

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

The need for a holistic response to creating inclusive working practice which has a clear and supportive pathway for employers and employees. This should not only allow for successful recruitment, onboarding and retention, but an emphasis on career progression.

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

Seeing inequalities and realising that not only did I have a vision, but was able to create practical and sustainable pathways to removing those inequalities and see the resultant impact on individuals.

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

What I’ve seen in my work to date, is that people haven’t set out to put barriers in place, they just haven't known how to remove them and are fearful of getting it wrong. Once people are provided with a supportive pathway, resources, practical support and collaboration, the barriers just melt away. This is particularly true in terms of workforce recruitment and retention, accessing services and opportunities, and creating enterprise.

Do you have a favourite quote or personal mantra?

Go ahead, underestimate me!

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

To see beyond it and welcome the valuable contribution that everyone has to offer.

 

Find out more about Jacqueline’s story and work:

Universal Inclusion’s website

Follow Jacqueline on Instagram

Follow Universal Inclusion on Twitter

Contact Jacqueline on LinkedIn

 

Published: 20th April 2022

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