“Jobs are really important to people. My job means the world to me. It means I can afford things I couldn’t before just on the disability benefit. It means I can afford to feed my cat Cindy. Living on the benefit isn’t easy because there’s not much left over to have any life. I laugh and say to my family “Don’t you come around here and bludge off me, you go out and get yourself a job like I did.”
I have had a job delivering circulars for nearly two years now. I needed a job to help me out. A friend of mine Paul introduced me to another Paul from CCS Disability Action. We all met at the Crusty Corner and had a pie together and a chat. Paul from CCS Disability Action got back in touch with me, and we met a few more times and talked about the sorts of things I like to do like walking and knitting. We made a plan together. I joked that Paul needed to get me a job before I died. I’ve had a lot of problems in my life, like cancer, and it’s been hard, but I didn’t want to sit around if I could help it. I wanted to go out and do something – to feel good about myself.
So then Paul introduced Vanessa to me. Vanessa is a Support Worker and we did some things together like feeding ducks and going for walks and we got to know each other.
I like plants too and Paul and Vanessa helped me to get some flowers and vegetables growing in pots on my porch. They also helped get me some more wool so I could do my knitting. One day Paul rang me up and asked if I would be interested in doing a circular delivery run, and I said: “Sure, I’d like to give it a go”.
It was not easy at first because there is so much folding to do as well as all the walking. I would stay up at night sometimes doing the folding but now I have the knack of it and it’s still hard but doesn’t take as long. Vanessa helped me to do the folding and show me around where I deliver the pamphlets. I was very scared to walk down the streets on my own in the beginning in case I saw a dog. I’d never been out much before and didn’t know my way around. It made me really jumpy at first but Vanessa came with me to help.
Vanessa’s behind-the-scenes support has allowed Heather’s confidence to build and enjoy the wider benefits of working. “I just walked alongside her until she was comfortable enough to do it on her own. Her life has been transformed through this job – not just the extra money, but the experience and sense of community it has brought her,” she says.
After a little while I could ask Vanessa to wait on the corner and go down a street on my own. I’d say, “Meet me at the rabbit hutch house” or, “I will see you at the red roof place with the big chimney” and I’d go on down the street on my own.
Vanessa never delivered any circulars for me, I always did that myself, but she does carry them for me or sometimes we put them in a trolley that Paul got for us. It gets really busy at times like Christmas when there are a lot more circulars to fold and deliver. Sometimes I get a bit tired and have a lot to fold. My run has 200 letter boxes to deliver to. Sometimes I have to deliver nine or 10 circulars into each box which means I have to fold 2000 circulars. I do try really hard.
Paul has loved playing a role in Heather’s new-found zest for life. “Heather is just an all-round awesome person. I see how tough her life has been and how she is flourishing now and I am just so happy for her. She has such dedication and commitment - no matter what the weather, out she goes on her round,” he says.
I like my job because I like getting out in the fresh air and walking. I like seeing people in the streets. I like it when people I don’t really know say hello and I say hello back. One time, when we had a lot of deliveries to do, we put them all in Vanessa’s car and she was following me slowly down the street. The people I’d met in the houses I deliver to thought someone was following me and said to come inside while they called the police. That was really funny but also really nice because it meant there were people who were looking out for me. That made me feel really good.
Having my job makes me a wee bit happier now than I used to be. I have a good laugh on my run. It helps me a lot with the extra money too. I can afford things a bit more like a television I rent and food for me and my cat Cindy. It also means I can go to housie and see my friends. I don’t have to worry so much about spending a little bit of money at housie and sometimes I have a win which is awesome.
It is not always easy doing my job. I have to go out no matter what the weather is like. It doesn’t matter if it is raining, windy, snowing or hot sunshine, I still have to get the job done. And I do. Unless I am in hospital, I never miss a day’s work.
I really really like the help I’ve had from CCS Disability Action. Paul and Vanessa and my other support worker Julie. They are funny and nice. And look, here I am working! I’m happy, my cat’s happy – I hope you’re happy too.
Thank you for reading my story.