Today, our Head of Astriid Consulting Catherine Hale is here to tell you about our exciting new offering for businesses and employers. We’ve created a bespoke package of eLearning and training, centred around accommodating talented people with long-term conditions – the people who make up a signficiant proportion of the disability community, and yet are so rarely included in traditional disability inclusion training. We’re also offering an assessment and accreditation scheme, and unique workforce research to help overcome the barriers to inclusive employment and boost meaningful inclusion in the workforce. Take it away, Catherine!
I’ve been given the amazing opportunity of creating Astriid Consulting and, let me tell you, it feels like coming home!
Some of you reading this may know me from my previous work with Chronic Illness Inclusion. You’ll know I’m passionate about creating greater visibility and a more inclusive world for people with energy limiting conditions and chronic illnesses. But I never did share much about myself in that role. So, here’s why the work I’m now doing with Astriid is so close to my heart…
I became ill with ME/ CFS in 1988. Like Long Covid, ME is an energy limiting condition. Almost overnight, I went from being in full-time professional dance training to being bedridden.
Despite my illness and the loss of my dance career, I found a new direction. Through part-time study, and thanks to supportive tutors, I graduated from a top university with a first-class social science degree. I was excited to enter the world of work and I knew I had valuable skills to offer, but it turned out I was ‘unemployable’.
Why? Because my symptoms meant I needed to work from home with flexible, part-time hours. I was told that graduate job opportunities with this kind of flexibility didn’t exist. Even disability employment specialists from the Jobcentre said they couldn’t help me.
I was invisible to the working world.
30+ years later, I still have ME. It’s still incredibly tough, but I’m no longer invisible. I have created a fulfilling working life and I’ve proved that with the right adjustments and autonomy, I can be just as productive and bring extra value to the world of work. Part of my journey has involved founding Chronic Illness Inclusion to fight for others to have opportunities too. And that same mission has brought me to Astriid.
Astriid is a UK charity that supports hundreds of talented candidates with long-term conditions just like mine, by connecting them with meaningful work. We know there are thousands of people out there with skills to offer, who are being failed by mainstream recruitment channels and a lack of imagination in businesses about the future of work.
With health conditions like Long Covid becoming increasingly prevalent, these numbers are growing. We also know that the potential job opportunities for this ‘invisible talent pool’, as we call them, are better than ever. In the digital era, and with the accelerated move to remote working of the past 3 years, the flexibility that wasn’t available to me as a graduate back in the day has now become the norm.
However, we’ve learned that there’s still a barrier that stands in-between our candidates and inclusive employment. That barrier is a huge knowledge gap. All too often, we see that line managers, hiring teams, and business leaders don’t truly understand the value that our candidates bring to the workplace. They don’t always realise that with adjustments that are often simple to make, and a more inclusive workplace culture, people with long-term conditions can thrive in their work and be the ideal fit for all kinds of roles in all kinds of sectors.
Many businesses recognise the value of having a diverse workforce, but did you know that people with long-term conditions (LTCs) form a huge untapped talent pool?
People with long-term conditions offer an innovative solution to the UK skills crisis – many are highly skilled and qualified, and they’re looking for meaningful work with inclusive employers like you. The next step is to tackle the systemic barriers that are standing in-between talented individuals and the business need for their skills.Astriid Consulting
Long-Term Conditions In The Workplace
Too often, long-term health conditions are perceived by employers solely as a problem, and not as the opportunity for diversity and inclusion and growth that we know they represent. This is where our mission lies.
Managing energy limiting conditions (ELCs) at work is our specialism at Astriid. We have therefore developed a bespoke package of training, assessment, accreditation, and research to help businesses understand and act to overcome the barriers to inclusive employment. In doing so, they will ensure that health and disability are placed at the heart of their Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion initiatives… not simply as an afterthought.
Between our team at Astriid, the combined strength of our expertise speaks for itself. I bring knowledge on ELCs and employment from my previous work with Leeds University Business School and Chronic Illness Inclusion. Most of our team at Astriid lives and works with a long-term condition – we’re subject experts in our field, and we all bring our personal experience into our mission too. And lastly, our track record in working with hundreds of talented candidates has taught us what works, and what needs to change, when it comes to inclusive employment.
It’s well documented that there’s a severe skills crisis taking place in the UK, and employers are struggling to find people to fill their roles. However, the number of workers who’ve left the jobs market due to a long-term health condition has shot up to 2.5 million. There are about 2.3 million people living with Long Covid and looking for new pathways to find a sustainable career. And there are 4.7 million people disabled by an energy-limiting condition. Those are three reasons why our consultancy services are timelier than ever before – there’s a whole untapped talent pool out there waiting for you, and we’re here to help you find it.
I’m thrilled to share that Astriid Consulting is now live, and I can’t wait to share more with you as things progress. If you’d like to find out more about working with us in the meantime, you can reach me at [email protected]!
Thank you for sharing Catherine, and for all your time and energy in establishing this game-changing new venture. Astriid Consulting is now live, so take a look and see how we can support you!