Disabled workers reject "ghetto" workplaces

2005

People with disabilities or long-term illnesses strongly prefer to work alongside non-disabled people rather than end up in "sheltered" or special workplaces.

A survey by Remploy, which employs people with disabilities in factories around the UK, found more than half – 58 per cent – of the disabled people it questioned said they wanted to work alongside non-disabled colleagues.

Just 10 per cent said they wanted to work mainly with sick or disabled colleagues, while 32 per cent said they had no preference.

The findings come ahead of the first set-piece speech tomorrow by new work and pensions secretary David Blunkett, who is expected to outline how the British government intends to carry through its five-year programme to reduce the £3.7 billion bill for Incapacity Benefit.

Remploy has warned that the government's plans to get one million disabled people off the benefit and into work will depend on employers being able to produce the right kind of jobs.

Disabled workers said they wanted to work with able-bodied people because it gave them better equality of treatment and there was less sense of being "ghettoised" as disabled or, even worse, "very disabled".

Conversely, those that did want to work alongside disabled people said doing so made them feel more secure and confident, and they felt it was more likely they would get support and understanding about their disability.

The disabled people polled said the biggest challenges they found in the workplace were learning a new job or skills, getting to know and getting on with new colleagues, discrimination, the impact of their disability, self-confidence and the attitudes and awareness of employers and colleagues.

Remploy chief executive Bob Warner said: "The survey shows clearly the work preferences of disabled people.

"It also shows that one of the biggest barriers to employment is the confidence and skills of the individual," he added.

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