Everyone, whether you have a disability, a family or you have what’s perceived as the ‘perfect life’ – we all need help and support at one point or another.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) a little over five years ago when my daughter was just a couple of months old and it hit me hard at the time. I’ve been at Virgin Media almost nine years and I used to work as a Customer Relations Executive during the day and as security at the weekend. I used to work overtime whenever I could. Now, fatigue is one of my biggest challenges. I’m not able to work overtime and it made me question where I could support my family at times, having that feeling of not being able to progress or go for that promotion.
But, last year I went on Virgin Strive where I met leaders from many industries from around the world including Sir Richard Branson.
There was me, Daniel, just a normal bloke from a call centre climbing through the Alps alongside well known faces from around the globe and in the evening I would be sharing my story! The pleasant surprise was that they were more interested in my story and me and that’s when something clicked for me. My mind-set about my MS is that it’s not going to hold me back, it’s not going to stop me doing the things I simply have to do, even if that means I have to work a little harder, go above and beyond and most importantly admit when I need help – because nine times out of 10 the help is there if you need it.
One year on from Strive and I’m now off to Bucharest next month as part of a European MS Support network to help others with MS who perhaps don’t know how to get help, who are a little lost or who just need a friend to talk to.
MS is simply the hand of cards I’ve been dealt and I’ve simply got to use it to the best I can. In poker the best hand doesn’t always win, it’s how you use it in certain situations that get you the win.
I see my condition as a big part of who I am, it’s now something which drives me to work harder and take any chances that come my way.
We can all find ourselves at a crossroads and when you get diagnosed with a lifelong disability which over time can have a detriment to life quality it’s about taking stock of life and ensuring you don’t give up. I don’t hide my MS from people I know, I don’t use MS as an excuse – I use it as a reason to get involved with things now and not put them off in case at any point my condition goes downhill a little more.
At Virgin Media, there is so much support available from healthy minds, Bupa and reasonable adjustments. I think the ‘testimonies’ shared from employees encourage those struggling that they don’t have to suffer in silence. You can speak up and be heard because there’s so much help available if you need it.
When I think about everyday inclusion, to me this is about having conversation. In the past people would skirt around an issue, not wanting to intrude too much for worry of upsetting and I understand some people will be wary. But with good communication and an open accepting culture, a question is just a question.
We are all human; we are all in an environment where relationships and conversations are needed with no hidden agendas. So I feel positive that we are getting to a place where with the correct mind-set and open dialogues, we can talk about diversity. The conversation around disabilities should never have a negative impact because so much can be done. We are Virgin Media; we are known to break down walls so lets keep doing it.