Applying for Access to Work – Part 1

Access to Work is a government employment support programme that aims to help more disabled people to take up or remain in work. It is a discretionary grant scheme that can help provide practical and financial support if you have a disability or long-term physical or mental health condition. There’s more information on the government’s website in terms of checking eligibility and applying for the grant here.

I’ve known about Access to Work for a few years now, and despite knowing that I could be eligible and that the scheme could really help me, I was never quite sure about applying for it. Mostly though, I was afraid.

I’m always overwhelmed at the thought of applying for any type of government funding or support, so the thought in itself has always proved very powerfully limiting to me. This was to the extent that I never really took the time to investigate the programme. Let alone take the decision to apply. This blog is split into two parts: the first looks at the application process and how you go about finding a support worker, while the second part considers the journey from submitting the application form. I’ll also throw in some tips along the way!

Firstly, I want to say that I had a charity supporting me through this process. And to this day, if this hadn’t been the case, I don’t think I would have done it

I would 100% encourage you to apply for this life-changing funding, but if you’re like me, perhaps find a charity that can support you through this process. Maybe one that covers the area of work that you do, or a charity specific to your geographic area. As an artist, I used Disability Arts Online (DAO), and they have been truly sensational. At the time, they were able to offer one-to-one support and actually did the application form alongside me. They supported me through all the queries, and I am very thankful to them and their incredible help. If you are an artist: please check them out here!

I decided to apply to Access to Work because as an autistic person, I struggle with delayed cognitive processing time, anxiety, sensory overload and being overwhelmed. As a consequence, this leads me to experience exhaustion, physical manifestations of my stress and anxiety, as well as meltdowns and shutdowns.

This means that I’m not working on the same level playing field as my neurotypical peers

I feel I already start the day at a minus capacity; a deficit almost, and this continually diminishes as the day progresses. As a result, I have less hours in a day in which I can function well and can work, and I therefore don’t have that full time work capacity available to me. I felt that was the right time for me to step up and take