Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm finding work very tricky at the moment. It's nothing serious, but rather lots of little things that are starting to add up.

For example. Yesterday I made a quiet request to my line manager, who works in the same office as me, that she talk to the buildings manager about putting a phone on my desk. When I'm in the office I fold up my wheelchair and put it in a corner - because staying in it can give me back problems - but the phone is over at the other side of the room, so I have to get out of my chair several times an hour to answer it, and this can be an effort, as getting out of a chair is often harder for me than walking. Recently I've just stopped answering it at all, but this isn't ideal. Suddenly, about *seven* managers and maintance people start wandering into the office, demanding (loudly) to know what I want, telling me (more loudly) that it isn't possible, and then storming out leaving me feeling appalling. This very public display of my disability was then extended into an office-wide discussion of what might be done to give me access to the phone, from which two options were raised: I either have to move desks, which I'm not happy about as I'm in an ideal place for everything else, or I have to stay in my wheelchair and wheel over to the desk. I left saying that I'd think about it another time, as I was so upset that I didn't want to deal with it all. I don't think that my access needs should be discussed so publicly and treated so tactlessly - but I'm terrified to raise it, because I don't want to get a reputation for being difficult. I've already had two meetings with my line manager in which I said I wasn't happy with aspects of the job. None of this is making me look like a dedicated professional.

This is all being made worse because the ironically-named Access to Work are being utterly crap. I'm being made to wait forever for a specialist consultant to come and assess my needs at work, meaning that I have nothing official to give to my employers, meaning that all the little changes I could do with are not happening. When I've raised some of these, I've had very little support from my managers, and nothing is changing. But again, since none of these are major issues, I don't feel able to kick up a fuss about them. I'd look unprofessional and whiney.

Oh, and the job itself is turning out to be much less creative and interesting than I had originally been made to believe it would be. Working with the students is great, but I have very little responsibility, and there's lots I'd like to get involved with that isn't my remit. Also I've just been told that I have to see five (or more) students every (six-hour) day I work - and we're talking seriously intensive one-to-one work here, for which I need time to plan and write up paperwork. Fortunately, the other person who does the same job as me isn't mad on that idea either, so together we might be able to negotiate that down.

On the other hand, working with the students is REALLY great. And I've got several with interesting access and support needs. So this could eventually lead to more interesting work in the area of equality and diversity in a college. Which is something I'm very keen on.

So I'm going to sit here and nurse my stress headache, while thinking about whether I should just quit, or hang in there and try and work out what to do about the various problems. Blah.

I'm reading: The Book of Dave. A fantastically chilling juxtaposition of the present-day life of a deranged cab driver and the future dystopia that his unpleasant ideas create. Disturbingly thought-provoking satire. Oh, and it's by the awesome Will Self. Absolutely everyone should read this.


Jsec64 said...

Hi there, I was reading your article with great interest. Might I suggest that you ask your Line Manager for an appointment with HR to discuss your 'Access' issues on a one to one basis. Then ask them for a copy of their previous formal risk assessment, which should be reviewed regularly, and in this case because of your changing medical needs.
HR should be sensitive to this and you are quite right to raise this issue without becoming a difficult employee. If you did nothing and fell then the onus is on the employer to have reviewed their previous risk assessment and to have dealt with this issue appropriatelty, in the event you were injured.
I will continue reading your article so let me know when there is an update.
You might like to read my article on my application for and Disabled Facilities Grant in my blog.
Kind Regards

Anonymous said...

No advice - just wanted to let you know that I'm reading and am part of your cheering squad.

Anonymous said...

Will read that. And honestly, I can't imagine what could possibly make repositioning a phone so difficult. It sounds like there's a subtext going on somewhere, though I wouldn't know where. It's just a shame you're having to fight so hard for this...

Anonymous said...

A telephone extension cable is such a hard thing for them to provide? Idiots.

Praying for you, and mum's an 'elf'n'safety officer, if you need any help, e-mail me - Techgirl has my details.