Work and RA - Being a Single Parent (anon)

I am a single parent of two young children. Prior to my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, I was working full-time as a Health and Safety Officer, which involved both desk work and visits to building sites.

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Following my diagnosis in 2007, the pain and fatigue forced me into reducing my hours to part-time work. This enabled me to manage my condition and I hoped would also limit the effect of continual medical appointments on my employer’s perception of me.

Although my employer seemed supportive initially, it was clear that there was no understanding about rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, a letter from my rheumatology nurse to my employer seemed to be taken the wrong way, and caused negative reactions towards me and my disease in the workplace. I did not receive any other additional support from my rheumatology team.

Job loss

Despite reducing my hours of work, it proved difficult to arrange medical appointments outside of working hours. Three years after my diagnosis, my job was made redundant. I fear that this was due to the combination of missed work for medical appointments as well as substantial periods of sick leave. I had to re-apply for my own job, which was re-created as a full-time position once again; it was made clear that my employer would not consider hiring another part-time person as part of a job share. I was therefore forced to accept redundancy.

Search for work

I have always been and remain keen to work. After accepting redundancy from my previous employer, I have stumbled from one temporary position to another during periods in which I am fit and well enough to work. These are all low-paid administrative jobs, unlike my previous permanent position. The benefits of temporary work are that I can choose to stop working when I am unwell at short notice, and I am treated as a more casual employee. However, these very minor benefits in no way outweigh the benefits of permanent employment.

My experience has resulted in a CV which has large gaps, meaning that finding permanent work has become increasingly difficult to find.

Summary

The nature of my condition has led me to having to live on credit cards, overdrafts and rapidly diminishing savings. I still have a strong desire of returning to a permanent job, despite the bad experience that I had in my previous workplace.

- Anonymous.