It wasn’t easy for Thomas to find a job, especially being a wheelchair-user. The right job has to suit his disability and the buildings have to be wheelchair accessible. “A lot of places require….you to carry things around and all that,” he says. He once used to work part-time at an IT shop during his younger days to support himself. “I went to find job on my own and always get rejected.”
Overcoming the barriers to employment
He joined Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) for about half a year. During his time there, the organisation trained Thomas to get used to working environments so that he’ll be more equipped and know what to expect in the future. However, after going out to get jobs, Thomas felt that for his interests, it wasn’t good enough so he went on to join Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) for nearly a year in hopes to land his ideal job.
Within the year, Thomas has changed jobs and tried different industries but he still felt like it wasn’t meant for him. “Don’t rush for a job immediately. Finding a job, you need time. Whether the company wants to take you or not is another thing, but if the…company or building is inaccessible, don’t take the risk,” he shares what he has learned after changing countless jobs.
Creating your own employment opportunities
Thomas may no longer have to worry about his employment frustrations as he is inspired to create his own startup that complements his passions. He’s been grateful for the support of a great group of friends who have always encouraged him to stay active socially and go out at night, something he’d like to replicate for others wheelchair-users.
Why at night? “Our transport [In Singapore] ends quite early,” Thomas shares, He noticed that many activities for wheelchair-users or people with disabilities end early in the evening, leading many to just go home and call it a day. Thomas wants people with disabilities to have the opportunity to also experience the night life like anybody else, have fun, and live life to the fullest.
He plans to provide a 24/7 service to call if your wheelchair breaks down. Currently, services are limited. “All wheelchair vendors work 5 or 6 days a week and on Sunday if their wheelchair breaks down then who’s going to be there for them?” Starting a new company is tough, but he’s taken the first step by creating a Facebook page to create awareness and to help any wheelchair-users who face issues with their wheelchairs. “At least we can assist them, find out what are their needs,” he shares. “If they’re facing some problems…we can work together.”
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