Maxine’s story – working for an equal voice

By Maxine Plowden

Let me introduce myself. I am a former qualified Social Worker.  A role which is sometimes regarded as a thankless profession. In my humble opinion if you had wanted to be praised, you chose the wrong career.  However, it is the career that I had wanted to do.

I was born with a visual impairment and I am comfortable living with it.  Also I was confident enough in my own mind of what I could or not do.

In my last role I worked with adults with disabilities. I enjoyed my career, no day was the same and I worked with people from different backgrounds and abilities. There were different challenges. I gained new experiences and learned new skills.  What I most enjoyed about my work was the planning and organising services for people to become independent and reach their full potential.

It may seemed strange that I had entered a profession that was supposed to encourage people and not make judgements about their abilities and life choices.  Through this career I have to deal with people’s attitude towards my disability.

I found that employers were reluctant to employ me assuming that I would be unable to make decisions or take responsibility of working with people; even though I had completed the same course and been awarded the same Social Work degree.

After ten years and in particular my last role. I have become disillusioned about my former career.  I   was   seen as being not good enough or I would be a problem by colleagues.   In my mind there was an attitude that I was not intellectually able to undertake this role.

It appeared to  me that disabled people  are supposed to be vulnerable and  recipients of services but not be in the  position  of providing services or  be responsible for making  decisions.

Let me be clear I am not ashamed of having a disability.  I wish and hope that society would see the person rather than the disability first and that it would Also realise that disabled people are individuals with differing abilities and opinions.


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