Disabled workers have allies

FROM patronising looks to being offered menial jobs beneath their talents, Andy Sharpe and Jan Strebinger know only too well how frustrating it is to have a disability and try and find a job.

FROM patronising looks to being offered menial jobs beneath their talents, Andy Sharpe and Jan Strebinger know only too well how frustrating it is to have a disability and try and find a job.

But their growing sense of hopelessness and loss of self-esteem has now spurred the pair to help other disabled people in the Yarmouth area find employment and a sense of fulfilment.

Mr Sharpe and Mrs Strebinger have set up their own company - 3 Percent Plus - to make sure that other disabled people can show off their talents in the work place.

Once 3 Percent Plus is fully up and running it will provide advice and support to disabled people to ensure they are confident in applying for jobs and are comfortable in their new positions.


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The company is named after a government pledge that most companies' workforce should be at least 3pc disabled.

It is estimated that 8pc of Yarmouth's population is registered as disabled.

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Former aircraft engineer Mr Sharpe, 53, of Gorleston, knows only too well the problems in finding a job and losing self esteem after becoming disabled following a car crash in 1989.

He said: “I even went shopping at 2am to avoid people but gradually realisation dawned on me that there is life with disability.

“However, there is discrimination in the workplace and for large numbers of disabled people it seems impossible to get any job at all.”

At the moment 3 Percent Plus is looking for funding to become fully operational and is seeking NHS and business support.

The company, which will be non-profit making, will also look at ways disabled people can work from home.

If it proves a success in Yarmouth then the company would seek to expand into the rest of Norfolk in the next few years.

Mrs Strebinger, a former insurance and risk manager who suffered an accident which caused nerve damage, said: “If you think of it even Nelson would find it hard pressed to get a job today. But we believe that disabled people have much to offer.

“They are often very mature and are so delighted to have a proper job that they are loyal and entirely committed to their new employer.”

3 Percent Plus has already taken advantage of small business support advice from Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Services (NWES) and a £1,700 grant from enterpriseGY.

Stephen Barron, NWES business skills coach, said: “I think they will do very well in a business area that is underdeveloped and they have some really good positive ideas.”

Anyone interested in supporting or finding out more about 3 Percent Plus can call Mr Sharpe on 07737 983 099 or Mrs Strebinger on 07941 145 152. Alternatively e-mail 3percentplus@googlemail.com

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