It’s been a year since Sally Champion signed off from blogging weekly about the process of setting up her own business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she was having to think differently about how to earn her living.
We thought we’d catch up with her to see how thing are going, twelve months on.
I THINK DIFFERENTLY: It’s been a year since your last “Career Champion” post, Sally. What are you doing now?
SALLY CHAMPION: Shortly after my blog finished I was offered a communications job at the Disabled Persons’ Assembly (DPA). That’s the disability rights organisation that promotes the interests and wellbeing of all disabled people in New Zealand.
I’m working 25 hours a week and I’m really enjoying the work. DPA has reinvented itself as an organisation and, of course, the voice of disabled people is much more relevant now as Government starts to honour the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 4(3). The article says the voice of disabled people must be present alongside government agencies developing legislation, policy and services impacting on disabled people.
I remember our discussion, Philip, about the pros and cons of being open about yourself online. It was interesting because I was approached about this job as a direct result of people in the disabled community reading my blog. So you were right — putting yourself out there does create opportunities.
ITD: How did writing the blog series impact on your attitude towards finding sustainable work?
SC: I loved writing that blog but it was a rather hair-raising time for me personally. I was really worried, not only about finding work, but finding enough work. When I was offered the DPA job the security of income was attractive.
ITD: What do you think about the welfare reforms and the “jobseeker” focus, both generally and in respect to people with long term sickness or disability?
SC: I haven’t read about the reforms in any great detail but I know working is good for me in all sorts of ways. I hated being on a benefit. However, after my experiences dealing with such a huge bureaucracy as Work and Income, it is hard to trust them to really be able to deal with people as individuals. Everything is so rule-bound. The job and the person need to suit each other. To do it properly, they really need to listen to what people want to do and have the room to work with them with real integrity, rather than just thinking about their statistics for political purposes.
ITD: Any exciting plans for the future?
SC: I’m not a great personal planner. I’m reading a book from the library at the moment that talks about the importance of setting goals etc and I’ve been thinking my historical lack of them could explain a lot. I’m writing something though. It’s partly based on fact but I feel compelled to make other parts up … so goodness knows what genre that is.
ITD: Thanks Sally. Great to catch up and wishing you well in the new job.