Beth Kume-Holland is the Founder and CEO of Patchwork Hub, a venture supported by Cambridge Social Ventures at Cambridge Judge to help inclusive employers connect with skilled disabled job seekers. She talks about bridging the disability employment gap and providing opportunities for all to thrive in work.
It has been a busy 2023 so far for Beth Kume-Holland, the Founder and CEO of Patchwork Hub, a disabled-led social enterprise which helps a “hidden talent pool” (ranging from disabled people through to carers and parents) to find work and thrive.
Beth was recently named a Women in Innovation Award Winner by Innovate UK for her continued dedication to making the world of work more inclusive for all. Less than a week later, Beth turned her attention to the Spring Budget announced in mid-March by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, which includes funding for 50,000 places on a new voluntary scheme to help disabled people return to work.
Patchwork Hub was founded in 2019, and Beth previously led Audience and Markets Insight at disability charity Scope. Named last year to the Disability Power 100 list of the most influential people in the UK by the Shaw Trust, Beth is a graduate of the University of Oxford and was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University.
The organisation is currently participating in the Cambridge Social Ventures programme at the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.
Beth provides her thoughts on pressing issues affecting disabled workers:
Disability inclusion in the workplace needs to be prioritised. The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented disruption, but it also showed that conventional 9-to-5 office-based jobs are not the only way for people to be productive workers. Remote and hybrid working are very welcome developments for many disabled people such as myself, as I found a 9-to-5 structure unsustainable due to chronic illness that began in my 20s. Sadly though, the UK is seeing too many employers re-introducing inaccessible office requirements and removing adjustments for disabled employees. But this is often due to a lack of awareness of barriers often stemming from a lack of disability inclusion in the workplace. Although many organisations have broad policies on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), policies on disability remain unfocused and intangible. A report from the Return on Disability Group highlights that although 90% of companies claim to prioritise diversity, only 4% consider disability in their workplace policies. This needs to be urgently addressed to help disabled workers thrive in the workplace.
No one should have to choose between good work and good health. But all too often this happens. Research found there are more than a million disabled people in the UK who are able and willing to work but are prevented from doing so due to workplace barriers. These obstacles can be physical in terms of inaccessible workplace environments, but also attitudinal in the lack of disability awareness among employers. These types of barriers result in disabled people in the UK being nearly 30% less likely to be employed and 3 times more likely to be economically inactive.
The goal is not just to get people back to work, but to get them back into the right type of work. To enable disabled workers to stay and thrive in work we need to create inclusive and supportive environments which suit their specific needs, and this is unlikely to happen if they are forced into inappropriate work.
This is where Patchwork Hub comes in. Patchwork Hub is an accessible employment platform, training provider and consultancy with a mission to create a more inclusive future of work. Enabling employers to attract skilled talent from the hidden talent pool, the organisation also supports employers in all aspects of disability inclusion, from recruitment and retention of staff through to helping employers reach their EDI goals and become Disability Confident.
If you’d like to find out more about Patchwork Hub and the work that Beth does, please see these links: