A day in the life - work and sciatica
Today we start a new theme about work, from finding work to the experiences in work. George tells us about a day in his life working with the pain of sciatica.
I left school with no qualifications, and worked in warehousing up until 2003 when I had to pack in due to Sciatica which I still suffer from. My introduction to housing was through my local TMO where I have served as Secretary and Chair for about 6 years. During this period, I was involved in developing policies, improving the organisation’s communication, and steadily improving its image and satisfaction rates. I joined my current employer as a trainee for two years, before getting a full-time job with them as a Section 20 assistant and last year after restructuring became a Service Charge and Section 20 Assistant.
My day starts early, 6 am when I wake up feeling stiff and in pain. I spend between an hour and two hours stretching and trying to loosen up. A shower and getting ready to go to work.
My morning is spent checking the team email and allocating them to team members, responding to inquiries from the sale team as well as my own emails. I also deal with any mail coming to the team. I will also answer calls to the team phone line.
There are ten people in the team and the regional manager. Six of us have disabilities or long-term medical conditions. Different members have different hours, from the standard hours, two of us start later and finish later. Most of the team are on compressed hours, working longer hours for four days and having an extra day off. We are also fortunate enough to have flexible working, so the option of working from home or another office is not uncommon. So the team calendar and individual calendars are key to keep track of where people are.
When these tasks have been completed I like to take my lunch break, usually between 12 and 1 pm.
My afternoons tend to vary from day to day depending on the time of year and what is going on in the rest of the team. My first task is to check my to-do list and calendar and deal with anything outstanding. Afterward, I am either helping one of the officers or working on one of the ongoing projects. Assisting officers can be anything from setting up mail merges, filling envelopes to acknowledging we have received leaseholders’ letters or emails, scanning, and putting documents onto the computer.
Otherwise I am helping to gather information and preparing spreadsheets for the service charge actuals or estimates. While I have a good general knowledge I often lack the confidence in myself, and so this route allows me to gain more in-depth knowledge and confidence in myself. Over the last year, I am answering more complicated questions rather than just passing the caller onto one of the officers.
The hardest part of the job is reading and understanding leases, not always the best-written documents often with conflicting information and, as a legal document, often written in a legal language that can be complicated or have a specific meaning, not in common use.
My day ends when I get home and lie down. It often feels like I have a golf ball underneath me and can feel the muscles relaxing. I often hear a click which is usually uncomfortable, but on the odd occasion can be painful.
Between my voluntary and paid work, I love working in housing. I am living the life I want and hopefully at the beginning of my career.
If you’re disabled or have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job, you can:
- talk to your employer about changes they must make in your workplace
- apply for Access to Work if you need extra help
Your employer must make certain changes (known as ‘reasonable adjustments’) to make sure you’re not substantially disadvantaged when doing your job. These could include changing your working hours or providing equipment to help you do your job.
You should talk to your employer about reasonable adjustments before you apply for Access to Work.
If the help you need at work isn’t covered by your employer making reasonable adjustments, you may be able to get help from Access to Work.
You need to have a paid job, or be about to start or return to one.
You’ll be offered support based on your needs, which may include a grant to help cover the costs of practical support in the workplace.
An Access to Work grant can pay for:
- special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
- help getting to and from work
You might not get a grant if you already get certain benefits. The money doesn’t have to be paid back and won’t affect your other benefits.
Tell us about your experiences at work, what are the challenges you have faced? What are the positive experiences? Are there coping strategies you use to get through your work day?
As an individual I stood alone.
As a member of a group I did things.
As part of a community I helped to create change!