Penny Melville-Brown


I had over 20 great years in the Royal Navy doing loads of different things: from photos with a dead turkey (public relations in the Ministry of Defence!) to intelligence flights over the Mediterranean. Nearly everyone was hugely helpful when my eyesight started failing – and the security guards regularly fished me out of the bushes when I got lost in Portsmouth naval base.

I’m hoping that what I’ve learned over the last 15 years working in the disability, equality and diversity fields will be helpful to others. The Disability Dynamics website has just been re-vamped and includes lots of resources for you to download – for example, I know that our Disability Etiquette guide is used on one Government Department’s intranet. Please feel free to grab whatever you can use – but include some accreditation.

Did you know?
Working disabled people are more likely to be self-employed than others (Census 2011).
We have been getting phonecalls from all over the UK following the re-runs of BBC TV “Saints and Scroungers” programmes featuring our clients with long-term health problems who have set up their own businesses. We have a whole selection of their success stories on
Self-employment has been booming since the recession – producing employment for about five times the number of people who have gone in to jobs (see my notes on the recent Resolution Foundation report).
Growth in self-employment and business start-ups is a recognised result of recessions as people make best use of their abilities and flair when jobs are scarce. And the New Enterprise Allowance with its volunteer mentors, transition funding from benefits to trading income and access to loans will have contributed. But it’s still not clear how well NEA plus all the business information available via HMRC and meets the needs of disabled people – there’s probably still too much “one size fits all approach” that isn’t sufficiently tailored to people with additional needs. When self-employment is such an important route to work for people like me, there seems to be a real gap in the market that projects like our Work for Yourself programme in Derbyshire try to fill. But there is still more demand out there.
Just as examples, I recently had phone calls with two highly vulnerable people in London: each have good business ideas that they want to progress but there is just no suitable specialist help available.

Wall aftermath
Wall aftermath

Grumble of the week.
A neighbour ran into one of my garden walls so I’ve been sorting out the claim. But my insurance company picked the wrong person when they asserted that failure to provide information in accessible format isn’t discrimination! Those who know me will understand the speed with which I gave them the relevant bit of legislation. I do find the financial sector really problematic on this score so perhaps I’ll have to escalate their failure to handle the complaint higher – perhaps the Financial Conduct Authority?

Penny Melville-Brown

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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