Eight job seekers with disabilities battle to find work. 29-year-old Marve has been visually impaired since birth. He wants to find a job so he can support his growing family.
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-Tell me about your last job.
-My last job was customer based. Nipple cripple.
I have a first-class honours degree.
Why have you not got a job?
You tell me.
I want a job because it's about feeling like part
of the solution rather than part of the problem.
Employers say they welcome disabled applicants.
But a million want to work, and many have found the job hunt impossible.
What does it mean to have a job?
You achieve self-actualisation, which is
demonstrated in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
In this series,
disabled job-seekers are coming together from all across the UK.
I have applied for 3,000 jobs. Not even a thank you.
Can somebody give me a hand with the door on this side?
How are you doing?
Psychologist Nancy Doyle will help the group realise their potential
in a unique training centre.
Full scale IQ, 141.
Wow, borderline genius, essentially.
-Way above average.
I've never been described as above average in anything.
Having a disability is not a barrier to employment.
Having discovered their skills,
they'll try to break into the job market.
I didn't want anybody to think that I wasn't capable of doing the job.
It's times like this that I do doubt my employability.
Ooh! Fishy fanny. It's not called that.
I don't mind working hard, bring it on.
Could their differences finally be seen as a strength?
All I need is one person to see past the fact that I can't.
There are sparks of brilliance in what you've done.
The train is approaching, get on board.
You having the guts to do this is the best Mother's Day present
-you could have given me.
-You can do it. I'm proud of you.
-Love you, too.
26-year-old Nicola is leaving Yorkshire for London.
-She is just desperate for work.
Her confidence has been knocked back by people... The rejections.
I want to see that proud bubbly girl back.
She'll be joining five other job-seekers who'll be
supporting each other in their search for employment.
-I never see my disability as limiting.
I always try to challenge myself.
-Having autism is feeling like an old-fashioned Victorian
gentleman in a 21st-century world.
-I see the world different because I am different
and I do feel there is more to me than meets the eye.
Each has their own personal obstacles to overcome.
No, I can't do it. I'm just going to have to go for it.
But some obstacles are bigger than others.
I would really like a full-time job, just to feel like I am good
for something and worth something and valuable to somebody, somewhere.
-So tell me about your qualifications.
I have a first-class honours degree in multimedia journalism.
-Why have you not got a job?
-You tell me.
Nicola lives at home with her younger sister Sophie,
Mum Eileen and Stepdad Steve.
We don't have any boundaries.
No sense of personal space. No sense of...
You have no sense of personal space. That little gap and then she'll come and plonk herself in the middle.
She thuds and elbows you in the nose while you're at it.
At two years old, Nicola was diagnosed with cerebral palsy,
a neurological condition which affects her muscle tone,
movement and coordination.
I've just taken out a wheat bag, which you heat up in the microwave,
and I can put it on the bits that are in pain.
Today I will be putting it on my hip.
There we go.
There's one on the floor
but, if it was a bad CP day, it would go down my bra
because I'm classy! Because I get rib pain.
So I would sit with it down my top.
I've got more wheat bags than a wheat bag factory, I think.
Nicola applies for dozens of jobs every week but hasn't
managed to find work since leaving university five years ago.
Most of the time they pass your CV along and it doesn't go any further.
They say, "We'll keep your CV in case we've got other jobs around here,"
and then they never call you back.
I think, at this point, I would just take any job, I think.
I need the work. I am literally willing to work for peanuts.
Part of life is to work and I want to work and have a life.
And I'd just get on with it.
Nicola's type of cerebral palsy means she's in frequent pain.
Her muscles are constantly tightening
and the condition is worsening.
The reason we do the physio is to break down the spasms in the muscles.
If I didn't, she would just get tighter and tighter.
Without her daily exercises, she'd quickly lose all mobility.
There's no point in doing it gently. You're not going to benefit a thing.
Get it up, get it stretched. Is that enough?
I've never brought her up as being disabled.
Why can't she do what anybody else does?
She has every right to feel like everybody else. Every right to work.
It's hard to see her getting down, rejected, her hopes built up.
And it's so frustrating because I know what she can do.
Her family have witnessed how the past five years of job-hunting
have taken their toll.
It does upset me because I know how hard she tries.
All these job interviews she's gone for,
no-one realises how good she actually is.
I've seen how distraught she is
when she doesn't get the job or how excited she is when she says,
"I have applied for a job today and I am going for an interview."
-I proof-read your CV for you when you did a CV and stuff.
I've been trying to help you
but then I feel really stupid helping you because I'm like,
"I haven't got a job, so I'm not going to be any good to help my sister."
She's actually such an inspiration to me because...
It's just so sad, the fact that she just tries so hard.
No-one actually sees how hard she tries
and how distraught she can actually get.
It's just quite...
It's quite heartbreaking seeing it, to be honest.
I've practically resigned myself to the fact that
I don't think anybody will ever employ me.
I do all of these things to make myself employable
and I still don't have a job and I don't know why, to be honest.
OK. Find the door. Find the chair. Good girl.
Find the chair.
Find the chair. That's it. Good girl. Good girl.
I want to push myself, but I've been held back by the lack
of confidence in me by employers. Just because I'm visually impaired
doesn't mean that I don't have the capability of thinking for myself.
Good job. This is how not to organise a bedroom.
Marve has recently set up house with his fiancee Becky.
-When I met her, I did automatically know that there was something
special about Becky.
I felt like a puzzle piece had been found and put into place.
Becky was born completely blind.
Oh, my God, it's heavy.
And Marve's eyesight has been deteriorating since birth.
I used to read print and write and now I can't.
He now has only 2% of his sight remaining.
The medical term for it is congenital glaucoma,
which means from birth.
Alongside that I have cataracts.
We've got a pack of peppers here. I have no idea what ones they are.
-The advancement of my disability, or my visual impairment,
has stopped me from seeing detail and I can't focus as well as I used to.
VOICE ON PHONE
And this is a red pepper, I think. I hope it's a red pepper.
If I'm trusting it.
The fact that I can see a little now, and knowing that, potentially,
one day in the future I will lose the little vision I've got, still does scare me.
Search the web for Indeed Jobs.
Finding jobs is quite difficult on the ground because I can't,
when I'm out, see if there's advertisements in shops
and on bus shelters or wherever.
VOICE ON PHONE
After so many knockbacks you kind of get a bit stuck in that rut,
in that way of life. So, again, that's kind of hard.
Marve was made redundant from his last job as a support worker
six years ago.
But recently, finding a new job has become even more pressing.
We have some exciting news.
Me and Becky are expecting our first child together.
We're both excited to be parents.
These pictures are slightly more difficult than the other
-ones to see.
-They're very difficult for me to see!
This is a few shots of our little boy.
Marve can maybe make little bits of a picture out and bits of detail,
-but I can't at all. Even when he's born I won't be able to...
-But that's OK, cos he's still my baby.
I guess it's... I guess it's something you just get...
You have to just deal with.
I'll never see him and there's no point dwelling on that.
This is something I really loved. She's getting the heartbeat up now.
That was the highlight of the scan because I got to hear his heartbeat.
Marve and Becky's baby is expected to be born with no visual impairment.
Considering I'm going to be a dad soon, my priorities
now in my life are to find a job, to provide for my family,
to give my child the best home that I can possibly give.
It's the first day of Marve and Nicola's group training.
-Nice to meet you. Would you like to just take a seat over here?
-Just behind you.
-No, no, it's all right.
-How are you?
-Nice to meet you. I'm Grace.
It's good to see you.
I always hope that my first impression on people is a friendly person.
I'm always afraid of people judging me.
-Nice to meet you.
-It's a pleasure to see you.
So I've always found that a little bit difficult.
-Hi. Nice to meet you.
-Hi, nice to meet you, too.
It will be nice for once to not be the only
person in a group in my situation.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, too. I'm Nic.
-They're lovely, Labradors.
-She's very friendly.
I can see that tail wagging. Even though she's a working dog.
It says, "Don't distract me I'm a working service dog."
Psychologist Nancy Doyle will be running the group sessions.
-The people coming on this workshop will have
thought about their disability as a barrier to employment.
And one of the things that we could hopefully turn around is this
idea that their barrier is a unique selling point.
It's something that shows how resilient they are.
By 10am the whole group has assembled
and the job-seekers are ready to start their training.
Nancy has invited a disability consultant to teach them
how to handle themselves on job placements.
-How are you doing?
We're good, thank you, Simon. How about yourself?
I'm very good, thank you very much.
What I want you to do is imagine you are having a conversation with your
manager and you have got to talk to him or her about your disability.
So you are going to say what adjustments you might need. Marve?
I would need to have reasonable adjustments to software
and potentially work space, so that it's not so cluttered.
Telling me things verbally rather than facial expressions
and to help me learn practical things, as I take longer.
I'm actually epileptic, so if I have a seizure you just have to
leave me to get on with it and then send me home.
The reasonable adjustments I need to work are not to have to wear a tie at work
because, like many autistic people
who have got a few problems with coordination, ties I find a real nightmare.
-Thank you very much. Is it Nicola?
-I don't need a lot of adjustments.
My family never treated my disability as anything unique.
It's just me. It's nothing different.
I quite often, as silly as this sounds, I forget that I am disabled.
Here's a thing. We've got our staff Christmas party coming up.
-We're going to go tenpin bowling and then go into a nightclub.
-Are you up for that?
-I don't understand what the problem is.
Most doormen in nightclubs, even if there is
no ramped access, will pick you up and carry you.
There might be a balance between your dignity
and then your bit of what really matters and what doesn't, and I like that.
-I have no dignity any more.
-You have no dignity.
-Years ago that just went.
The job-seekers have hundreds of failed applications between them.
Nancy has called in a team of expert recruiters to
examine their CVs.
-How's it going?
-Is it all right if we go through your CV?
-Yes. Yes, it is.
-Start from the top.
-OK, I will.
How long have you been unemployed for?
Officially, five years.
I got into Cambridge, I decided. That was for maths.
What A level results do you have?
I have got an A star in maths, I've got an A in further maths, A in biology.
Marve's dream is to find work as a carer.
He has over three years of previous experience, so the experts
want to know why he hasn't found a job in six years.
-I wanted to kind of start with what you're currently doing to get a job.
At the minute I am...
I wouldn't say embarrassed to say, but I'm not
doing very much at the minute, in the sense of looking for work.
-What's causing that lack of motivation?
It's partly confidence in myself. The ability to get the job, as well as the jobs being out there.
-OK. Do you want a job?
-I would like to work, yes.
-Getting a job is not an easy thing to do.
You've got to say to yourself, right from day one,
"My job is to get a job." And you make it your job to get a job.
You cannot expect other people to see the benefits that you bring
if you do not see those benefits yourself.
-I guess I feel a bit rusty and that's part of the problem.
I need to push myself a bit more and decide, you know, where I'm going.
I'll just give you a hand with your tie.
It actually needs to be retied, if that's OK? Does that work better for you?
Yes, it does. Thank you, Marve.
After her first morning at the training centre, Nicola is
beginning to rethink her lack of assertiveness.
I have had such a rough time job-hunting that I'm like, "I should
mould to fit everybody else," where, really, it shouldn't be like that.
Why do you think that is?
Because you're articulate, you're bright,
-you know your condition, so where...?
-I don't know. That's the thing.
-Maybe I'm just rubbish.
-Do you think you're...? This sounds weird.
-Are you a bit too nice?
Are you trying to worry about other people's worries a bit too
-much rather than...?
-Yes, I'm definitely guilty of that.
I don't know. I'm a definite people pleaser.
If you give so much and, actually, it's to your own expense and, in
-this case, cos you haven't got your job yet...
..that's almost self-defeating.
Don't make it harder by refusing things that make life easier.
Yeah, I don't know. I definitely am losing my resilience.
It's been chipped away at sort of every day my job hunt goes on.
I want you to flourish. And it sounds like you're just on the precipice.
-You're going to leap and it's terrifying.
-And it will be a bit bumpy.
But the end could be great, cos you can be you completely
-and you get the job and everything, so...
-Thank you so much. Thank you.
-It was a pleasure. Good luck.
That was... Nobody has ever... I really am going to cry in a minute.
Nobody has...ever sat
and had that kind of conversation with me before.
He has been there and even though he didn't know exactly that was
how I was feeling, his experiences reflected mine
so much that it was so nice to know that this is perhaps quite
a common thing that disabled people go through and I'm not a freak.
Over two days, the group undergo mock interviews, CV workshops,
and career planning.
I originally wanted to be a dentist, but I couldn't do that,
so I figured, finance accounting would give me a good grounding.
-It's been about six years.
-Really? Since you last interview?
So while you were busy getting a first-class degree, you were
-also running the student newspaper?
-I wasn't running it. But, yes, I was working on it...
I wasn't running it. I just was an editor,
-a sub editor and a news editor.
Before leaving, Nancy takes Nicola to one side to prepare
her for the next few months of job-hunting.
There seems to be two Nicolas that I've seen in the last two days.
There's the Nicola who speaks in the group,
and sometimes Nicola waits until the very end to be invited in.
And so I'm wondering what is the difference between those
I think it probably depends on how confident I am in my own contribution, to be fair.
Nicola, your confidence has grown hugely in the last couple of days.
But do you know what? I haven't once noticed you cut anybody off.
You're very, very respectful of other people in the group
-and I think that maybe you're worrying about that too much.
-Let's hear more of Nicola's voice.
More of your voice is not a bad thing.
-Do you think you can do that?
-Yeah. I think I can try.
-I think you definitely can.
I'm hoping that, once I've truly had a chance to let my talk sink in,
hopefully I will have a bit more confidence within myself,
that confidence will carry through and I'll feel more enthused
to seriously apply myself to job search again.
With the first stage of the training over, all the candidates must
now take on the challenge of finding employment.
-There's some really good, strong options and opportunities
for all of them, but they are going to have to persist.
If people's self-esteem needs to grow, the best thing that can happen
is that they can start achieving things, and then it just automatically happens.
They take those leads and they follow them through.
And I really think they could get somewhere like that.
Two weeks later, Nicola is about to put Nancy's lessons into action.
I suppose I haven't really cold-called anywhere
since I was at university and looking for work experience.
But I guess, when somebody's been so long out of university, you
maybe don't expect people to start ringing for work experience.
So I'm a bit dubious how that's going to go.
Her dream is to write for a living.
Today she is approaching a digital marketing company.
-..If you would be happy for us to take a look at your CV?
Just one thing that I wouldn't mind mentioning to you now.
It is on my CV. I am physically disabled.
I have cerebral palsy so I walk with a walking frame.
-If we get further down the interview process or you come
to the offices, I would just make sure that you had everything that
you need, and I'll ask you a question about that nearer the time.
-But, no, that's absolutely five.
-Yes, all right. Brilliant.
-Thank you very much for your time.
-Thanks, Nicola. Bye.
-Thank you. Bye.
My guard's up. I'm very guarded.
If it doesn't come to anything then we're back to square one.
So there we go. Another e-mail sent into the ether.
I'm going to try and not get too optimistic that it will lead
to anything, but if I fire off that e-mail now, then she's got it
and it will show that I am keen.
50 miles away in Doncaster, Marve and Becky have had some unwelcome news.
Out of the blue we suddenly get Social Services
knocking at the door.
I answered the door and she's like, "I'm so-and-so from Safeguarding."
I didn't even know what to say to her, like...
It was almost like a slap in the face. I was just a bit like...
"Oh, my God." Like...
"Where the heck have you come from?"
The local children's services have been in touch.
Immediately, we're fearing, like, "Oh, my God,
-"what are they going to do?"
-At first, I was like...
Are they fearing for the fact that we can't look after our child?
The first thing that went through my mind is, "They're not having my baby."
-He's our child, at the end of the day.
-He's healthy and he's our little boy and he's...
-And he's coming.
He's coming to a loved family who wanted him.
I think the fact that makes it hard is that they were involved
because we are visually impaired.
People see "visual impairment" and automatically think "need help".
We have to field prejudices every day that we go out into the public.
Our worry is trying to protect our son from it affecting him.
It's more important than ever that Marve proves
he can get back into employment.
Nancy has come to help him
gain the confidence he needs to return to the job hunt.
I'm going to read you a list of numbers
and I want you to just read the numbers back to me as they come.
-Is that all right?
Five, one, seven,
nine, three, seven, three.
Five, one, seven, nine, three...
OK, this time, I'm going to do it again.
What I want you to do is to say them backwards for me.
Two, four, one, seven, eight.
-Eight, seven, one, four, two.
That was great.
That's all I have to say to that.
I'm delighted to tell you that every assessment we did was above average
and your memory scores were even higher than that.
Your age-adjusted score was 19 out of 19.
-That's really good. That's amazing, to know
that, on the average scale, that I'm actually quite high on that.
Yeah, so it's not just a good memory, it's an exceptional memory.
It's typical for people who are visually impaired
to develop good memories, but Marve's is off the scale.
He retains so much really detailed information.
Just amazed that I'm actually that good.
I guess that helps when it comes to looking for work.
It's been three days
since Nicola sent her application to the digital marketing agency.
Have you applied for any of our jobs yet?
I'm talking to a company that I phoned the other day
and I sent them my CV.
-Hello, is that Nicola?
-It's Renee calling from Search Laboratory.
Nicola, on the basis of your CV, I'd really like to progress you
to the next stage in the selection process.
-If that's OK?
-Yeah, that sounds fine with me.
-I'll speak to you shortly.
-All right, brilliant.
Thank you very much, bye.
That's so good, Nicky!
-Oh, my God, I got a hug.
-Oh, are you happy?
It's really hard for me not to feel massively encouraged,
but I'm trying not to feel too encouraged
because of all the knockbacks that I've had in the past.
Is this, like, the most confident you've felt
about one of them before?
It's the most confident I've felt in a long, long time.
Marve has been given an opportunity
to put his memory skills into action.
I want people to see that I am employable
and the skills I have are valuable.
After receiving his CV,
Age UK has invited him in for a job trial as a support worker.
Go work hard and I love you.
And I'm really proud, OK?
-Love you, too.
When looking for work or trying to show others what you can do,
I feel that we have to do 50% more
because we have to work that bit harder to prove that we can learn.
-How are you doing today?
Not bad, thank you.
Are you all right just to follow me?
Yeah, yeah, I'll follow you.
Marve's first task
is to get straight on the phones to contact carers.
Hi, good morning. I'm just calling on behalf of Age UK.
Just wanted to find out if you received the fact sheet?
And things are going well as well?
OK, well, I hope you have a good afternoon.
-You did really well, it was really good.
As well as being tested on the phone,
Marve will need to prove himself
by helping out at a local day-care centre.
So, we're going to be serving dinners.
-I've got you an apron to put on.
It ties round the back.
-OK? Are you all right carrying, yeah?
It's a wide-open space.
Be interesting to see how he actually copes
with handing cups of tea out.
Lunchtime, will he be able to contribute anything there?
You know, I don't know how he's going to sort of work out
where the kitchen is. Exactly how does he find his way back there?
So, from my point of view, it's going to be quite interesting
to see how he copes with that.
Marve will have to rely on his memory to navigate the busy room
carrying hot food and drink.
-It's a bit warm. Are you all right?
-That's fine, yeah. OK.
OK, thank you.
Come on, straight on.
Right turn, right turn.
Bit warm there. Are you OK there?
-OK. No problem, my pleasure.
Oh, I'm getting caught up here!
Macy, straight on.
Obviously, today, it's all new so, you know, I'm not...
..100% with the space,
but my ability to mind map and get a feel of the layout is quite good.
No problem, you're welcome.
Being out of work does start to put a doubt in your mind
what you're able to do rather than what you're not able to do.
And I think there are a lot of things that he is able to do.
This experience has reaffirmed the fact that I have good skills
and it shows that I'm still employable.
It's 6:30am and Nicola has got a big day ahead of her.
Today is the first day of my two-day work experience
at Search Laboratory.
Public transport, when you're physically disabled, is, like, an
absolute nightmare, so that was the thing that kept me up last night.
Not, like, not worrying about the work experience,
it was worrying about if all the buses and trains
are going to work out and stuff.
The marketing agency is in Leeds, 17 miles from her home in Keighley.
My day has just got a million times better.
Do you want to know why?
-I've popped a rib.
Apparently I've not got enough muscle to hold it
into the right place.
Which is why it keeps popping out.
It is uncomfortable but, thankfully, it's just the one for now, I think.
This is just the price I pay for being alive!
Erm... I don't know how I'm going to get past all these people.
Can we just make a bit of room just for this lady?
Welcome to life with a disabled person.
It takes Nicola three hours to reach the agency for her work placement.
And her body is already aching.
I am not going to tell them that I am in pain
because I don't want them to treat me like I'm going to break.
Nicola has two days to prove to her bosses that she can do the job.
So, if you could put together two or three Facebook posts
and just think about the different audiences
and any sort of key messages that you want to put in there.
As the morning wears on, Nicola's muscles begin to contract further.
Already now my shoulders are hurting and my ribs are hurting
and that's from all the walking.
I'm going to be sat on a computer all day,
so if you see me fidgeting, that's why.
Right now, I can string sentences together and stuff,
but if I don't manage to nip this pain in the bud tonight, erm,
it could be pretty...
..pretty horrible by tomorrow.
The work I can do, but it's the physical side of it
and I don't want the physical side of it
to impact on the work side of it.
At the end of the day,
Nicola's manager comes to check her finished articles.
Yeah, they're punchy, so they're very good.
I think what we'll do now is we'll take one of them
and we'll put it live and we'll see the traction that it gets.
Oh, thank you.
Nicola hasn't said a word about the pain she's been feeling.
I've had a really good day.
If this building had been in the city centre,
today would have been the first day where my life hasn't been about
Nic the disabled person for such a long time.
And that is so nice because that's what my life always was.
-Can I give you a hand?
-Oh, yes, please!
-What's the trouble, are you trying to get up?
-Just guide it with me, please.
-Ah, I've got you.
-And the back?
Yeah. Thank you!
Now we do the long commute home!
The next morning,
Nicola wakes up to discover her pain has worsened.
-Is that your rib?
Yeah. I might be able to crack it by fluke.
I could do with somebody to just run a steamroller
over my back or something.
And my shoulders.
I feel shit.
As she reaches the office,
she's determined to get on with the job with no special treatment.
My ribs are killing.
And when my ribs aren't right, it makes me feel sick.
..if I were at home right now,
there are things I could do that I can't do while I'm here
to get rid of it, so it's really frustrating.
-My back is fucking killing.
One of my major pain things at the moment,
it's like if somebody were to get the bolts
that are on the side of, like, a Frankenstein monster,
and is trying to hammer it directly into the ball of my hip joint.
Never a day that goes by where something doesn't hurt.
By lunchtime, the pain has intensified.
I haven't actually told anyone here today that I'm in pain.
I don't want people to think that I'm slacking off,
or not capable of doing a job.
-Do you want to go home?
Pushing on, Nicola now has to submit the work to her manager.
-How are you feeling about it?
Well, because I was really doubting it, myself, and...
Now you're here to give me some feedback
and now I don't know if I should be feeling better about it!
Reading it, it felt very natural.
You know, I really like the headings,
and the amount of information that went into it.
A few spelling, grammar mistakes.
I thought there would be.
-Not that many.
-Proofreading's not my strong point.
-Is it not?
But overall, you know, in the time that you've done it, yeah,
I'm happy with, you know, how your writing style is.
Before Nicola leaves,
the management team want to feed back on her placement.
Your desire to learn, and you're so keen as well,
it's been an absolute pleasure working with you.
Sort of where we've ended up is you've got a good start,
you do need to build on that, and get a bit more experience.
I just wanted to give you some advice, though.
And that is please stop putting yourself down.
In particular, your ability.
You ARE a good writer,
and whenever you need to ask a question,
stop apologising that you need to ask that question.
So how do you feel about the feedback today?
I think it's... It's lovely.
I am going to get emotional, sorry.
Take your time.
This whole... I don't have any tissue.
This whole journey that I'm on at the moment,
with everyone around me, like,
not just here...
..it's forcing me to...
..look at my disability in a different way
to how I have been looking at it.
My mum has always brought me up to...
My disability is like a side note,
and nobody in my little bubble of family or friends
has ever really made a big deal out of it.
..I haven't actually told you all,
but I've been in quite a lot of pain today.
..but I didn't want to tell you because...
..I didn't want anybody to think
that I wasn't capable of doing a job or...
..I was complaining.
We would never have wanted you to carry on working
if you weren't feeling very well.
But I wouldn't have wanted you to want me to stop working.
-But we would have told anybody to stop.
Cos if you're not well, you're not well.
I think, unfortunately, my lack of confidence
is so far ingrained now, that I do need help,
and they've said that today and that's a great help, but, like...
..I'm not going to see them after today,
so I'm not going to have that positive reinforcement.
And I really need that.
It's eight weeks since the first training session,
and all the job-seekers are reuniting in London.
After two months, most are still looking for work.
And Nicola has been questioning her job search.
I definitely had a blip after the work placement.
I didn't get out of bed for about...
..a week because I was, like, "Job-hunting is horrible,
"companies have been nice, this is horrible, I am horrible.
"Why am I...?" You know, "Why am I even still doing it?"
And I had, like, a major...dip.
-Right, this doorway just about does you, doesn't it?
Yes, it does.
So I had the job trial at the research laboratory,
and I learned a lot.
But it was a pig of a commute,
it took me, like, three hours.
What kind of impact did that commute have on you,
in terms of your tiredness?
Were you in any pain when you were at work?
I deliberately didn't...
..tell, like, the people I was working with that I was in pain.
I think I would have had to be there for a couple of weeks and...
..to my own mind proven myself to be a hard worker
before I would let myself ask.
I think... I mean, for me, when I hear that,
what I'm thinking about is just how draining that is for you.
And, you know, if you're trying to prove what a hard worker you are,
-you need to be able to work at your best.
A main learning for you is to not be kind of embarrassed
or ashamed of mentioning your disability,
and to just ask very clearly for things that you need.
They're not unreasonable things to ask for,
they're very reasonable,
and if you just say, quite clearly, "I need to use a wheat pack,
"I need to go and have a stretch, I'll be five minutes,"
no-one's going to mind that.
-Yeah. I need to stop being so hard on myself.
Upstairs, Marve is catching up with the other job-seekers.
The visit from Children's Services has been playing on his mind.
-Our local community midwife actually referred us to Safeguarding.
-On paper, you see two VI, or a VI couple, couple having kids.
You think, "That's a recipe for disaster."
-I have always said I am just as capable, if not more, than
-I do my own home DIY. I put my own furniture together.
I think I'm more than capable of looking after a child.
With Marve focusing on the arrival of the baby, his job search has
taken a back seat.
How many jobs have you sourced and applied for in the last period?
Probably only about one or two.
Maybe it's time to up the ante a little bit in terms of the volume.
-Yeah, I think so.
-But what I'm wondering is why you're not doing that already.
What about some part-time work?
The only problem with that is that I'm being paid in one source,
-they take it out of the other hand.
And I'm not claiming just for myself, it's Becky's money as well...
-..cos we're on a joint claim, so it's not just me losing out.
I just think, if you put this off, I worry that it will never happen.
And I'm concerned that you're putting this off,
if I'm honest, Marve.
I'm actually a bit concerned.
-It was good to have that pep talk, talking to Nancy.
I believe she is right because, before you know it,
so much time has gone past and you've either lost that motivation
or things have just gone beyond in the situation where you feel you can.
And she's right because, if I want to show that example
to my son as he is growing up, I need to start now.
Six weeks later and Nicola has been given the chance to secure a job.
She's got a work trial at a lifestyle magazine
based in Bradford.
I am in a bit of pain today. Nothing I can't handle, hopefully.
I'll deal with it because I have to deal with it.
Even if I have to crawl up the stairs.
Thank you. Otherwise, I'll be on the floor...
There's nothing worse than a chair moving all the time.
Nicola has been given the responsibility of writing
a major business profile for the magazine.
Her first task is to interview the boss of a local fashion company.
-I want you to be yourself.
You are confident, so don't feel shy, timid. Be your bubbly self.
Thank you for trusting me to go and meet one of your biggest clients.
Absolutely fine. You've got to give somebody a chance, though, right?
These are one of my main clients.
They're very, very important to us and for the brand.
We want to keep them on on a long-term basis so, for me,
it's a big day to see how Nicola performs.
-This is Nicola.
-Hi, Nicola. How are you? Are you OK?
-Yeah, I'm good.
-Nice to meet you.
Anything special coming up to mark your seventh anniversary or...?
Just watch this space for the seventh anniversary,
-it's going to be something.
We don't just see the UK as our market, we see the global, international market.
Nicola puts the journalistic skills she learnt at
university into action.
I hear you've had a few celebrity customers in your time.
Yeah, there's a number of them to mention. Just to mention...
Amir Khan, his wife, Faryal.
I suppose we've got all the information that we need,
we're good to go from our end.
-Yep. Thank you.
-Thank you very much.
If her article impresses, it could be her first paid job
In Doncaster, there's been a new arrival.
-I don't think he has, you know.
-Let's have a smell.
Five days ago, Marve and Becky had a healthy baby boy.
They've called him Kobe.
I just want him to be happy.
As long as he's happy and he knows his mummy and daddy love him...
-..that's all I ever want for him.
-Come here, then.
Fatherhood has made Marve return to his job hunt with renewed commitment.
Holding our little boy and just knowing he's here,
just feeling like a dad, I feel like I need to protect him.
I need to show him the ropes in life
and finding a job would give me all of that and gives me self-pride.
And when he grows up, he knows that, actually,
Dad might be visually impaired, but look at him,
he's doing what he can to provide for me and Mum.
Good luck. Enjoy it, have fun.
Today, he's heading off to Doncaster Council to try to persuade them
to give him a chance as a wellbeing officer.
It's very important for me to do my best, to try
and get something work-wise.
There's no guarantee, I've just got to keep trying.
His application was previously rejected
because they thought he didn't have enough experience.
Marve's come to try to convince them that he's
well suited to the caring profession.
You already, on your work history, refer to some experiences that
you've had working in a residential placement as well as with Age UK.
-What we really needed, though, is a little bit more detail.
And evidence of what you did in those, to show that you
actually, you were involved in that type of work of supporting people.
So, say, for example, in your Age UK placement, what did you do, Marve?
Basically I was there on a social as well as support basis.
Basically engaging them in conversation,
I was there also supporting them with their food
and that's always been one of my passions, really, is helping people.
You see, just in asking you that question
and your answer, you've just verbally given us the detail that
-would provide a perfect example of how you'd meet that skill.
But it's because they were missing in detail that we weren't able
to shortlist you on that occasion.
After meeting Marve, the council offer him a chance to gain
valuable work experience in one of their outreach programmes.
Even though I didn't get the job that I applied for,
it's an amazing opportunity that they've offered me, to do some work
experience, to hopefully see where there might be opportunity for me.
In Bradford, it's the second day of Nicola's job trial.
-We getting on OK?
-Yeah, I think so.
It's gone from one line to, like, a massive paragraph now, hasn't it?
-It's getting there.
But after two hours of writing, the familiar pains are returning.
-Do you mind if I just have a quick walk around?
-Yeah, go for it.
Just to stretch my legs and I'll be back in, like, two seconds.
I just get pins and needles if I sit down for too long.
-It's OK, plenty of space to walk around.
-Yeah, I'm all right.
I'll just go and sit out there and have a stretch and stuff,
and then I'll...
Unlike her previous placement,
Nicola shares her secret with the bosses and asks for a stretch break.
It's not something I've ever, ever, ever done before
and I can't quite believe I'm doing it, to be honest.
Before, I think, my pain was kind of an albatross around my neck.
So it felt really great today to be able to go into work,
to go, "Yeah, do you know what? I am... I am different,
"I do have different needs to other people and that's OK."
I've brought the sweet bag that I use sometimes when I've got pain.
-Would you mind heating it up in the microwave for me, please?
-No, that's fine. It's a cute little thing.
-Yeah, it's fine.
-Is it warm enough for you? You sure?
-Yeah, thank you.
I was the only one who was putting myself under any extra pressure
and I don't need to do that.
After six hours, Nicola completes the feature.
Let's do it.
Yes, excellent. Right, let's see how we get on here.
-Let's send this across and...
-That's the one.
Tomorrow, she'll find out
if it's good enough to make it into the magazine.
Marve has been preparing for his work experience
as a wellbeing officer for Doncaster Council.
If this goes well for me, then, maybe there may be work in it
and it does set a good example to my family and to others.
He's been asked to lead one of their awareness
sessions on dementia at a local school.
A way to...
..illustrate how dementia works is to use a ball of string
and we're going to hand it round, not necessarily in an orderly
fashion, because our thoughts don't work like that.
You know, one thought might connect to another that connects to another
because there might be more than one thing that triggers
a different memory or thought, but then dementia might come
along and cut through those connections,
will break a connection so you think, "Oh, gosh, what do I do now?"
You know the feelings,
do they get mixed up as well or do they just stay as they were?
-They can get mixed up.
-Yeah, your feelings...
-They can get muddled.
It's very difficult for him
because he can't obviously read the expressions of the children,
but he used his other skills because he automatically turned
his head so they made contact that way, which was a good thing for him.
It was lovely to meet you guys.
I hope that us today coming has helped you understand a bit
more about dementia.
-Thank you. Bye.
At the end of the session,
Marve's bosses meet to discuss his performance.
I can only hope that I did enough to impress.
Worst-case scenario is they don't like me and they said what I've done
has not been sufficient, but best is that they liked what I did and,
you know, there might be potential work out of it in the future.
-Come on through.
I think it's fair to say that, having done the work experience,
you've got a great understanding of the job role
and you're in a much better position applying for a job with
Doncaster council in the near future.
Just remember when you do your application form
and it says "brief details", it don't mean that brief.
It's a confidence boost to know that the skills
and the kind of character I have would be great for a role like this.
I got the feeling that everyone I've come into contact with
has seen past my visual impairment.
It felt good to be, you know, treated as an equal.
-Oh, my God...
And there's more good news.
To the couple's relief, the children's services have deemed Marve
and Becky fit parents.
I'd like to say the future looks bright.
I went and worked hard.
Well, I think so.
Worked hard. Yeah.
Yeah, I'm employable and I think the last couple of months has
built my confidence in understanding that.
Now it's just waiting for the right job to come along.
They told me to apply for anything that came up, to keep
my eye out to what's coming up,
they said that there's opportunities potentially.
I am really proud of you. What's your opinion, mate?
-BABY BREAKS WIND
-I'm so glad you've just come home!
At the lifestyle magazine, Nicola's bosses have heard
back from the client after sending off her first feature.
Start off with,
they did say maybe have a bit more detail in there about their brand.
Also there was a few typos.
-It just meant that, once you've read over it, they'll stand out
and it's making sure that we put in details such as their locations.
-Oh, yeah, sorry.
-But that didn't affect the client.
-They're happy to put the article into publication.
-So it's a positive and it's a thumbs up on my end and on their end.
-So you've done a brilliant job for us.
So what we would like to do is,
I would like to take you on a 12-week probation period to start with.
Thank you for letting me come into a work environment
and forget that I am a disabled person.
Like, my family forget. Like, my mum will ask me
to do something she knows I can't do because she forgets.
I'm just taking a stretch break.
Like, I've never, ever done that in a work environment before.
That's just because you guys made me feel so comfortable and...
..I hope that you will understand just a little bit of, like,
what that means to me.
-Thank you very much.
A big part of me really wanting a job was me
wanting to feel part of society.
This is going to give me my fight back and I've missed my fight.
-I did it!
-Are you happy now...
-..that somebody's finally, finally, finally seen you for you...
-..not your disability?
They made, like, no fuss about my disability whatsoever.
Like, I didn't even need to ask for anything.
It was a workplace where I could forget
I was a disabled person for a little while.
I'm really, really, really proud of you.
Employers, when they see me, they just think hassle.
They just see it as a difference
that they don't want to accommodate, basically.
All I need is one person to see past the fact that I can't.
I just want a chance, that's all.
Having 21 years of being able to walk
and then having that taken away from you is horrible.
-Do you want help? Are you OK?
-Yeah, you might need to help a little bit.
He has to leave his wheelchair at the door,
because it has no relevance to the position that he's looking to fill.
26-year-old Nicola was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two. She has a first-class honours degree in multimedia journalism, but despite hundreds of applications she has never had a permanent job. After living independently at university, Nicola is now back at home with her mum, stepdad and sister. Although she relies on her walking frame and lives with frequent pain, she is willing to do whatever it takes to prove to employers she has got what it takes to be offered a full-time job.
29-year-old Marve has been visually impaired since birth. He was made redundant from his job as a support worker six years ago. Since then he has gradually lost the confidence and motivation to keep looking for work. Marve and his girlfriend Becky have recently found out that they are expecting their first child. This has given Marve a new incentive to find a job and the conviction to regain his independence and support his growing family.
Psychologist Nancy Doyle invites Nicola and Marve to her unique training centre, where they learn how to access the hidden jobs market and recapture the confidence to seek and secure employment.