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Renovating Mindsets; Deconstructing Myths - Do disabled people have a place in the UK construction industry?

Posted: 26th April 2016

Kevin Millin

Senior Quanity Surveyor

Beard Construction

After working in the industry coming up to 20 years, 10 of which I’ve suffered with health problems I needed help. The pain my condition (Fibromyalgia), with its complications (rheumatoid arthritis stage three - four in my legs and spine) causes, has steadily been getting worse; sleep is getting less and my ability to deal with it and still progress to my career goals, has started to seem further away than it feels it has ever been.

I’ve been lucky, my employers have been amazing; and while looking into what they can do to help me get back to the level I was and for the progression that was just in front to be achievable again; they have encouraged me to seek help and support externally too. But looking for this in the construction industry, has left me feeling more alone and less understood. One of the suggestions was to use this feeling to helping others in the same position. Both helping myself and to hopefully making the industry I love better.

I believe 100% that the construction industry is missing a massive opportunity for disabled people to work within it due to old thinking and myths and I want to do something about it. As I have progressed through the years I have seen some of the old attitudes to certain parts of the demographics (thankfully many of which have now gone) whether it concerned more women entering the industry, your age limiting how far you could progress, to what country you came from, to name but a few. Now one of the final hurdles, we have yet to get over is how we deal with people’s health.

Unlike the other ‘perceptions’ this mentality still hasn’t disappeared with time, and it won’t unless, like other previously perceived conceptions within construction, it is challenged and something done to change it; and I know it can be done, because we have all seen it change for the better in other areas; so let’s tackle this one too.

With the latest proposed cuts to assistance, the absolute desire for people to get in to work and the huge shortfall in professionals coming into the construction industry, surely this is a fit for everyone?

Contributor: Kevin Millin is a Senior Quantity Surveyor who has worked in the construction industry in various businesses since 1997. He has been happily ensconced in his current role with Beard Construction for 2 years working on a variety of projects. Kevin set up the LinkedIn Group ‘Disabled People in Construction’ and would welcome you to join the conversation.