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Perseverance is the most important thing. You’ve got to carry on believing in yourself and what you do.”
Meet Mariwan Inferadi, a 34-year-old from Southampton, living with the condition Leber’s amaurosis, which means he has light perception but no useful vision. Mariwan shares his remarkable journey from education to employment and how Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Works For Me programme helped him along the way.
Mariwan grew up in northern Iraq before he moved to the UK in 2001 at the age of 14. Upon arrival, he spoke only Kurdish. However, he swiftly mastered English, even learning braille during his college years. He achieved GCSEs and A Levels before pursuing further education at university.
Heading off to the University of Southampton to study law, Mariwan faced familiar barriers that often confront disabled students. His first term was marked by a lack of appropriate equipment and support. His Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) application encountered issues, causing delays in obtaining essential support like mobility training, IT equipment, and a notetaker. Fortunately, his good relationship with his former college ensured he had temporary equipment.
Mariwan became involved with Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Our Right to Study campaign, where he and 12 other students met with Chris Skidmore, the then-Minister responsible for Universities, to discuss their experiences accessing DSA and attending university.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Mariwan went on to achieve a master’s degree in diplomacy at Reading University, completing his studies in late 2019.
Mariwan began his job search in February 2020, just before the pandemic took hold. Unsurprisingly, job hunting became increasingly challenging, and Mariwan struggled to secure interviews, despite applying for approximately forty roles. He matched job descriptions and person specifications, yet responses were scarce, leaving him in the dark about his progress. He knew he needed advice and feedback to overcome this hurdle.
Mariwan learned about the Works For Me programme through Thomas Pocklington Trust’s Education Team, who he met during his involvement in the Our Right to Study campaign.
The Works For Me programme, a free service, offers support and guidance to blind and partially sighted individuals, helping them develop essential skills and navigate the job market while advancing their careers.
Mariwan knew he possessed the skills for employment, but his applications needed refinement. Works For Me proved to be the key to getting his applications noticed. He made full use of the programme, receiving help with applications, CV writing, IT skills, and mock interviews. He said, “I didn’t know how to write a supporting statement. The Works For Me programme taught me that you have to address all the points succinctly, showcasing your skills while meeting the criteria.”
The training and support from Works For Me addressed the reasons behind his interview struggles. With newfound knowledge on crafting effective supporting statements, Mariwan began securing interviews.
Works For Me also provided Mariwan with interview practice, enabling him to prepare for potential questions and refine his interview techniques. Mariwan actively sought feedback after each interview to identify areas for improvement. Paired with continuous mock interviews offered by Works For Me, Mariwan improved his interview skills, articulating his suitability for various roles.
Thanks to his solid grounding in interview technique, when Mariwan finished his last interview, he already knew he had the role. He successfully secured a position as a Mental Health Act Admin Assistant at the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.
This role uses Mariwan’s academic experience, involving advising patients, clinicians, solicitors, and doctors on the rights and responsibilities of patients under the Mental Health Act of 1983.
“Perseverance is the most important thing. It’s hard to fill out applications and apply for jobs, and it’s often twice as hard for a vision-impaired person. You’ve got to carry on believing in yourself and what you do.”
Mariwan had the perseverance, but the Works For Me programme’s support and training helped him get over the final hurdles to full-time employment.
Thomas Pocklington Trust is committed to working in partnership with sector organisations and others to support blind and partially sighted people into employment. Mariwan also received support from Blind in Business in his job search.