It was a dark winters evening. The leaves were rustling outside. Seema Snailgutter was minding her own business boiling a new potion in her cauldron. 1 too many dirty socks were added. BOOM! There was a loud blast, a purple cloud and Seema’s witch like hair stood on end.

The potion had back fired. With a sprained ankle and a broken wrist… not to mention her bruised ego, she was struggling at work. Working as an Administrator for a busy business, handing in documents on time was essential. Seema couldn’t keep up with the work load.

Having had regular check up’s with her doctor, Seema knew that her wrist would now always be weak and she would struggle to use if for lifting and general movements. She tried her best to continue as normal at work, but she was constantly in pain and discomfort when using her computer.

Seema started to panic and worry about the future. Looking into her crystal ball, it all seemed cloudy.

Not even daring to go near her cauldron again… she reached for Google. Hooray! She found the government run a scheme called Access to Work.

If you want to work but have a disability that make working a problem you may be able to get help from the Access to Work team. If you can tick ‘yes’ to the following you may be able to apply:

  • Do you have a disability or health condition that has lasted 12 months or is likely to last for 12 months or more?   YES / NO
  • Does your disability or health condition impact you on your ability to work?  YES / NO
  • Are you aged 16 or over? (Thank goodness she read that there was no upper age limit for support as long as employment is likely to continue as she was 104 in witch years)   YES / NO
  • Do you need help with a job interview?  YES / NO
  • Are you about to start work?  YES / NO
  • Do you have a job or a starting date for a job?  YES / NO
  • Are you self-employed?  YES / NO
  • Are you a resident in Great Britain? (Excluding Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands)  YES / NO

There were no exclusions for witches to apply. Looking at her injuries, she nodded to herself in relief after answering the questionnaire and contacted her regional Access to Work centre.

South East England, London, East of England – London regional centre – 020 8426 3110 – - Job Centre Plus I Access to Work I Operational Support Unit I Nine Elms Lane I London SW95 9BH

South West England, Wales, West Midlands, Midlands – Cardiff Regional Centre – 02920 423 291 – – Job Centre Plus I Access to Work I Operational Support Unit I Alexandra House I 377 Cowbridge Road I East Cardiff I CF5 1W

Scotland, North West England, North East England, Yorkshire and Humberside – Glasgow Regional Centre – 0141 950 5327 – - Job Centre Plus I Access to Work I Operational Support Unit I Anniesland JCP I Baird Street I Glasgow I G90 8AN

During the 20 minute phone call she was asked to provide her National Insurance number and her work contact details. She also had to explain the barriers she faced at work and a workplace assessment was recommended. Unfortunately, they couldn’t put a solution in place to help her ride her broomstick again but alternative forms of transport were discussed (horse & cart, magic carpet etc.)

Much to Seema’s surprise it was all very straight forward and provided instant relief knowing that she was getting the help that she needed.

Having completed the telephone application, a form arrived through the post to Seema’s home address for her to check and sign.  She did chuckle watching the postman walk to her front door, dodging the singing toads and the jazz swinging willow tree.

Access to Work received the signed form and an advisor got in touch to discuss the application in further detail. A date was agreed for the work place assessment and soon enough, Seema was sat at her desk with Nigel, the Access to Work assessor, talking through the solutions that could assist Seema and reduce the impact that her disability had on her job role.

A few eyebrows were raised during the appointment. No, Access to Work do not provide spells to make people look like Celine Dion and asking for your bosses’ hair to be turned into green spaghetti is not something Access to Work currently offers. Oh well! At least she asked.

Nigel recommended Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software and training to reduce the use of the keyboard and mouse. This will eliminate the pain and discomfort Seema experienced when using her computer.

A report was written by the assessor and sent to Seema. She then discussed with her employer the recommendation of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and the training.
Her employer contacted the supplier recommended (Freedom of Speech of course!) on the Access to Work report to place the order. As the company she worked for less than 49 employees, they were not required to contribute anything!

Number of employees         Amount to contribute
0-49 employees                   nil
50-249 employees               £500
Over 250 employees             £1000

Freedom of Speech sent the Dragon software to her employer on a next working day delivery service. The software was installed and less than 2 weeks later, a trainer from Freedom of Speech was sat with Seema showing her the software. The possibilities seemed endless using it. It was like magic in the little strange box called a computer that humans use.

6 months have passed. Seema is doing great! She is able to keep up with her work load and has also taken on some new responsibilities.

Her witch practising has also improved. With her new Celine Dion nose, Seema really does feel on top of the witches’ colony. She has also managed to perfect a spell which will turn hair into green spaghetti… just in case she needs it of course!

AuthorKristina Sinclair