“I can honestly say Ingeus is one of the first places I’ve worked where I feel accepted. For anybody, like me, who has a disability I would recommend it in a heartbeat. I’d shout about it from the rooftops.”
The praise comes from Tushar (Tush) Sinha, three years on from being hired as a Key Worker for the Ingeus Work and Health Programme in the North West. Tush is autistic, has dyslexia, Type 2 diabetes and a chronic back problem – disabilities that were declared on his job application form.
He says: “But at the interview stage they just wanted to assess if I had the right abilities for the job, which was refreshing. And from the moment I made it clear what I needed after getting the job, I was supported by my managers and colleagues.
“I had to have an ergonomic chair and a stool due to my back conditions, and for my dyslexia and learning difficulties I needed special read and write software on my laptop as well as a digital recorder for meetings. I got these through my Access to Work application with my manager Frances Corrigan giving me full support.
“I’m given quiet time at the start of the day to plan my workload as I work in a very processed way and can struggle if I’m interrupted and lose my train of thought. Of course, every job has its stresses – curve balls get thrown in, spanners in the works – so at times I must step away, take a break and start again.
“My colleagues respect that and can also tell when I need a quick chat over a Pepsi Max. They know the way in which I process and sometimes take the mickey – just to give me a reminder that I am only human!”
A fresh challenge occurred last year when Tush was diagnosed with a serious heart condition that required four months off work. He says:
“I was allowed to work from home for as long as I felt I could before the operation, and then given a phased return until I felt able to come back full time. Frances called me every week to check on my workload and how I was feeling. I don’t think I would have got that level of one-to-one support from a manager in any of my previous jobs.
“During this period Frances moved and was replaced by Harriet Fitzgerald so my autism meant I was anxious about returning with such a big change. Frances made sure that I met Harriet a few times before I came back and left a comprehensive handover about me and my conditions. And I can say honestly Harriet has offered me the same level of support.”
His current role helping jobseekers brings Tush huge satisfaction. He says: “I work with real people, with real problems and I love helping them break down their barriers. When you’re living with disabilities you can perceive them as obstacles, or you can adapt and develop mechanisms to get what you want. That’s what I’ve done, and I freely share my story with participants to encourage them to do the same.
“It’s work I really enjoy and I feel is worthwhile. I’ve become accustomed to the environment here. I like the fact that I’m not micro-managed – I’m trusted to do things my way.
“The support network is unbelievable and the camaraderie and banter is great. I made friends in a short space of time. They are there whenever I need to vent face-to-face or on the phone, or simply to go for a drink after work on a Friday.”