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Disabled people doing it for themselves: self-employment, home-shoring and running your own business

30 May 2012.

Radiate’s coordinator Agnes Fletcher interviewed four speakers, who between them set out some of the advantages and disadvantages of flexible forms of employment.

We are very excited to work with such a creative and forward looking group as the Radiate network. I enjoyed discussing how our virtual model can offer new opportunities to disabled people in the UK.

Some of the key questions for the panel were:

  • What advantages and disadvantages can running a business or working for oneself bring for disabled people?
  • What has the experience been like for people who work in this way?
  • What opportunities are there for working in new ways that bring autonomy and flexibility to disabled people’s working lives - which mean that they can reach their full potential?
  • What support is on offer to help support entrepreneurship?
  • What learning can usefully be shared by network members to others considering working in this way in the immediate future or longer term?

Read a full transcript of the event.


Our speakers

Image of Helen Cooke

Helen Cooke founded MyPlus Consulting in 2006 following senior roles at Marks & Spencer and Mars Inc. Helen provides training and consultancy and enjoys running a business and all the challenges that go with it. She says:

Working for myself allows me to do what I do best and what I am passionate about. I particularly enjoy the diversity of my work and the opportunity to meet interesting and inspiring individuals.

Image of John Charles

Dr John Charles founded Catering2order.com having had to abandon his previous career ambitions after developing a visual impairment. He has built the multi-award winning contract catering company from zero in 2007 to a £6 million order book by 2011. John says:

The job offers disappeared once I was registered blind. For a while, I sat back, not having a sense of direction. But then I’d always had an interest in catering so I formulated ideas for a new business. The company now employs around 20 people, mostly on a part-time basis, and many of the workers also have disabilities.

Image of Stephen Pegge

Stephen Pegge is Director of SME Markets, Commercial Banking at Lloyds Banking Group. His team has supported many start-up businesses run by disabled people – with the financial aspects but also through providing broader business advice and mentoring. Stephen says:

I know of many successful businesses run by disabled people, including those where someone’s disability is at the heart of their offer – for example a woman who lipreads and can transcribe from CCTV footage for the police. At Lloyds we want to nurture talent and we aspire to be the best bank for disabled customers.

Image of David Cartwright

David Cartwright is Group Chief Executive of Arise Solutions International Ltd., founded 15 years ago to provide work for disabled people in Florida. It now operates in four countries with 25,000 home-based agents. David Cartwright says: