HIDDEN LIVES 4 PLEDGES.
What is Hidden Lives?
Hidden lives are a support group for people with hidden disabilities, chronic illnesses and chronic pain conditions. Many people have focused on helping people with more visible disabilities, but those whose disabilities are not as prominent often don't get the support they require or need. The phrase “you don't look disabled to me” has been said to pretty much every single one of our group at some point in their lives. This kind of attitude and naivety is why many of our group used to or still stay more solitary in their lives and not want to leave the house.
This must change!
Our aim is to not only support, listen and provide a comfortable area for people to express themselves. But we want to go further by educating and helping businesses to understand conditions in order to react more positively towards Hidden disabilities. By providing and adapting to small changes to the work place settings, it has the capability to really maximise the potential of employees and will benefit customers suffering from a hidden disability.
One example was a Hair salon that we spoke to, they came back to us with positive results. They simply spoke to their customers about hidden disabilities, they changed some small routines that really wielded positive feedback.
This happened when we brainstormed to our Hidden lives group regarding hair salons, many said they had trouble with staying in one place for a long period, especially with hair washing etc. This often put them off going as they didn't want to make a fuss, constantly.
The Salon whilst speaking to customers now tries to get customers with hidden illness's in at the end of day or during more quiet periods, so they can spend longer with the clients. With small little things like asking if they would like a break during their hair being washed etc.
The Salon went on to say that it's been very positive experience and openly admitted it's not something they would have thought of initially. Due to little cost-effective changes they have seen an increase with returning customers, especially those with Hidden Disabilities, and this positive attitude has had the salon being asked for these slots through reputation, as word spreads to other suffers. The biggest thing they had to do was merely bring it up in conversation and adapt small changes. This proved to be a win/ win scenario, not just for the Salon but for people with hidden disabilities that want to enjoy every day life without feeling a burden or being a fussy customer.
WHAT ARE HIDDEN LIVES
The 4 pledges are a promise to not only staff but customers as well, it's a way of getting business's and companies to show their support for disabilities that are unseen and promise to aid their workers to have a happy working environment. Also, we would like them to adapt their working practices to better suit customers with hidden disabilities, as with the salon above.
Here at hidden lives we have heard some awful stories about discrimination and bullying in the workplace, because of sufferer’s physical conditions are making them slow, painful or lethargic. As a group we want to make a difference helping others gain knowledge and have a different view. Individuals affected feel lack of awareness is the biggest problem in fighting this vital awareness issue.
We believe that by signing up to the pledge you are leading the way in supporting hidden disabilities and equality, but also proactively improving the lives of others as you do. The 4 pledges have been designed by speaking to several of our group and finding out the biggest problems in the workplace and how they would like to see improvements, this is how the 4 pledges came to be, we hope you feel this is something you would like to adopt and implement yourself.
Being Safe, Being heard, Being supported and being Connected.
Compassion is required from employers to fully understand their customers and staff, for there to be a strong support network in place for hidden disabilities its vital a safe, private and neutral environment can be created in order for employers and employees to feel safe enough to express themselves and any concerns. When people are trying to express ailments of a personal nature it’s important that they are welcomed and feel safe to do so.
Employer's will give the time and listen, feeling unheard is a major problem for sufferers of hidden disabilities as this cause's more problems further down the line. As isolation and frustration becomes more prevalent, stress levels increase. Employees will feel safe and understood just by expressing their situations, it's important to be heard.
Having knowledge of individual situations and symptoms and be willing to adapt. This will increase the working relationship and get the best efficiency from your staff, resulting in the best productivity for your business.
This is the best way to support individuals and business goals, we aim for all employers to understand symptoms and be mindful of the staff and various conditions.
Good Communication can provide a better working relationship, have a working relationship where your staff can feel comfortable to speak is vital. By connecting on this level, we hope to break down embarrassment and have people openly be able to ask for assistance, and not feel if they can't talk about ailments. By building a strong connection you will re-enforce trust and provide a better working environment for people with disabilities.