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Self employed stories- Bob Pembroke and RSP Therapies

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What have been the greatest challenges you have faced? Were there any challenges you faced that perhaps someone with good vision might not have experienced?Self Employed Story, Bob Pembroke

Like most things in my life much of what I come across is a challenge, after all it is a sighted world and blind people have to try and fit in. Equipment like computers, screen readers etc are very expensive and therefore it was difficult to get information about starting up, where to go for help and that sort of thing. I still face challenges on a day-to-day basis, for example, going to another site other than the Bath House, which we often do can be difficult as I don’t know the building and often don’t have time to find out the layout.

I do like a challenge and always try to meet them head on.

I still often find myself struggling with getting information, which I could use, but often I think it’s more to do with my basic computer skills.

Did you feel that there was any support available to you in starting your own business. Specifically is there much support for someone with a disability who wishes to start their own business?

There is help out there if you know who to go to. PRIME helped me start my business plan, which was good. The access to work scheme is useful as regards providing a support worker, in my case my wife is my support worker and DWP pay her for thirty hours work. Jan drives me to and from work and stays with me, showing in my clients, reading their consultation forms etc. I would like to say the scheme works really well, but because they always want to cut everything down they can be rather ruthless, which makes trying to do your job even more difficult.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a business like yours (Particularly someone who is facing issues with their sight) ?

I have started my business without any money and it has been and still is very difficult. You really need to do your homework i.e. look at the competition in your area, get a website, I find having a website very good, I can give out advice on certain matters to do with health, I can put up any special offers I might be running. Like most things if you want it bad enough and you work hard enough I am sure you will reap rewards maybe later rather than sooner.

For anyone with a visual impairment go and talk to the disablement adviser at your local jobcentre and if you’ve got a good one they can be very helpful. At the end of the day it is still down to you to get out there and sell yourself and your skills, work will not fall into your lap and if you don’t let people know about you and what you do then they are not going to knock on your door.

The RNIB helpline can signpost visually impaired people to organisations that could be of help and chatting to other disabled business owners can often be of help.

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Published on: 5th March 2014

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