* This post is written by our Equipment Case Manager. *
Hello! My name is Isobel, and I am the new Case Manager here at Access Your Life. Meaning when you fill in an equipment request or grant assistance form on our website it comes to me, and I can help guide you towards accessing the right equipment and enable you to live your life to the fullest. I think it’s a pretty cool job not gonna lie!
A little about me. I became disabled 8 years ago during a ballet class, where I went in able-bodied and left disabled. It turned my life upside down and it took me a while to learn to live with my new normal. I cried the first time I had to use a wheelchair (yay for internalised ableism) and was devastated that I could no longer apply to medical school. I watched from the side lines as my classmates went off to university and got on with their lives.
Not being able to attend my 6th form prom because it was inaccessible was a low point. In time though I learned to adapt and have since graduated with my master’s degree in Biochemistry (with a 1st I’ll let you know as I worked hard for it and I’m pretty proud of myself!). I’ve also learnt to drive, discovered a new passion for horse riding, and I am even learning to dance again from my wheelchair (shout out to Kate Stanforth for that one). I’m also now working in this job where I am doing something worthwhile – something that has always been a must for me in my career and what initially drew me to pursue a career in medicine.
My journey to get my active manual wheelchair was difficult as I am an ambulatory user, meaning I was ineligible for most statutory help and did not have the means to self-fund. Therefore, I spent 6 years in a basic hospital chair that I could barely push myself. This resulted in me being very reliant on my friends to push me, and a permanent shoulder injury on my part. Now, I have a proper active chair (Quickie Argon 2) and a rear power assist (SmartDrive) that have opened up the world to me. I immediately went to the post box all under my own steam for the first time in years (having a disability defiantly teaches you to appreciate the small wins) and even pottered around town without needing any help from my friend!
Getting the mobility equipment I needed was such a journey, and one that felt so overwhelming at so many points – lots of sales pitches where everything cost an extortionate amount of money and incomprehensible order forms. With no one else in my life who needed any of this equipment to turn to, I felt alone. Enter Access Your Life! They were exactly who I needed when I was getting my wheelchair and I wish I had discovered them sooner.
After my previous position came to an end, I was struggling to find a part time work from home job that would accommodate my needs; my previous employers were not awful, but they lacked that lived experience of what trying to work with a chronic illness is truly like. So, I emailed Felix asking for a job! I thought my lived experience and skill set would be an asset to the AYL team, and clearly Felix agreed as he phoned me back 10 minutes later! A month in and I feel like I am getting to grips with my new position. It’s amazing to be able to offer people the support I once so desperately needed and the AYL team has been nothing but supportive. I feel lucky to be part of an accepting workplace when I know that so many disabled people lack these opportunities.
So, I think that’s me in a nutshell! A wheelie dancing horse girl who just wants everyone to have the wheelchair they deserve.
Thanks For Reading – Isobel