Here’s a difficult brief: from your home in London, find disabled people who are working in small- and medium-sized enterprises in Yorkshire, then meet them and their employers and write up their stories.
That’s what I was tasked with during six months on a campaign run by Department for Work and Pensions. Called EmployAbility, it encouraged businesses to take on disabled people. It wasn’t easy: many disabled people work, but it’s more usual for them to find jobs in government, a charity or a large corporation. Some people were happy to chat informally but understandably didn’t want their interview and photograph used in publicity.
When I did find people who met the criteria and were willing to take part, their stories were inspiring: many had struggled not just with long-term illness or disability, but with the frustration of unemployment and dependence on benefits. Now they were in work, and whether they were a part-time cleaner or a well-paid professional, it meant a lot to get out of the house, meet people, earn money and make a contribution.
Here are links to some of the case studies (now held in the UK Government Web Archive).