A young man from Cardiff has used his personal experience of living with a visual impairment to start his own business which aims to support organisations to cater for the needs of visually impaired customers.
From May 2014 Daniel aged 22 from Roath intends to provide training and consultancy services to businesses across the UK to help them improve their knowledge and understanding in order to improve the experience of their customers with a visual impairment.
Daniel was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary condition causing a gradual loss of vision, at the age of eight. During his school years Daniel experienced bullying and had difficulty coping with his visual impairment and not being able to enjoy the same experiences as his peers, such as, learning to drive.
Daniel began to accept his condition after attending the RoyalNationalCollege for the Blind in Herefordshire where he met lots of inspirational people who taught him to focus on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t. From a young age he dreamed of being a policeman, however he later realised this wouldn’t be possible due to his visual impairment. After college Daniel progressed onto University where he undertook studies to learn more about supporting those with a visual impairment to become more independent.
Since leaving University Daniel has worked but has not sustained employment. He has experienced some negativity from former employers who sometimes thought he was less capable due to his visual impairment.
These experiences motivated Daniel to set up Visualise Training and Consultancy which aims to improve an organisation’s awareness, knowledge and confidence when dealing with people with a visual impairment. It delivers accredited training, premises accessibility checks and a mystery shopper service provided by visually impaired shoppers. It hasn’t been an easy process but Daniel’s determination is inspiring.
“The last six months have been difficult facing a range of different barriers trying to set up in business, however this didn’t stop me. There was no option for me to give up as I wanted to pursue a career that I am passionate about, which is making a difference within society for the better. I felt degraded by being labelled ‘unable to work’ this motivated me to strive towards achieving my dreams and aspirations just like anyone else. I am determined to be successful and I will keep working to achieve success.
When conducting my market research speaking to employers and employees, many stated they would be unsure of what to do or say when dealing with someone who has a visual impairment. In addition I found a statistic that 9 out 10 employers would find it difficult or impossible to employ someone who was blind or partially sighted, which I found shocking, and thought these perceptions need to be changed and I want to work with employers and employees to change these and create positive change.”
Over the past few months Daniel has been tirelessly trying to up skill in order to ensure his new venture is a success and to secure initial start-up funding so he can make the jump from unemployed to an entrepreneur.
With the support of STAR Communities First and Want 2 Work Daniel has secured start-up funding from Jobs Growth Wales and Unltd and has also received financial help to fund additional training for his own professional development. He has also completed qualifications to ensure he has the relevant skills for delivery and the most up-to-date subject knowledge.
Daniel said “STAR Communities First and Want 2 Work have been a great support in helping me to develop my idea and turn it into a business”.
Daniel has been working closely with Laura Butler, the Youth Employment Mentor at STAR Communities First who provides one to one support and guidance for unemployed young people aged 16-24. Laura said:
‘Daniel has shown true commitment and drive throughout this whole process; it has been quite a journey. There have been many obstacles over the past few months which Daniel has overcome with his determination. Daniel has engaged brilliantly and has strived to establish his business. The support I provide to young people is often reliant on how much they are willing to give; Daniel contributed wholeheartedly throughout the process. It has been an exciting and fulfilling journey for all involved! We all let out a big cheer when Daniel obtained his Unltd. and Jobs Growth Wales funding.’
Mark Stewart a personal adviser who offers one to one support on the Want to Work Project said:
‘Daniel has been a pleasure to work with and support, he has shown a real commitment to setting up his business and not letting his disability become a barrier. He is an inspirational person who has shown that you really can achieve anything in life if you put your mind to it. Daniel fits perfectly with Want to Work’s remit of supporting people from disadvantaged areas back into sustainable employment. After numerous one to one and joint interviews I was able access Want to Works training fund to pay for an ILM Train the Trainer Course and Eye Clinic Liaison Officer course which were essential to undertake. I also accessed a Want to Work discretionary grant to help Daniel get his business started. I am sure he will go on to achieve great success in his career and I feel proud that Want to Work were able to help him realise his dream’.
The Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates said:
“I have been struck by Daniel’s truly inspirational story. Not once has he wavered from his ambition of improving the customer experience for visually impaired people. He has faced and overcome every obstacle with positivity, determination and tremendous resolve.
“Daniel refused to accept that his visual impairment should ever prevent him from following his chosen career path. He has pursued every opportunity to upskill and learn with admirable single mindedness and I’m thrilled that STAR Communities First and the Jobs Growth Wales Young Entrepreneurs Bursary have played a part in his success.
“Thanks to the Bursary, 249 new businesses have been set up by young people across Wales. I am delighted that Visualise Training and Consultancy has become one of these and wish Daniel every success with the company’s extremely important work.”
Daniel has also received support from The Prince’s Trust by taking part on the youth charity’s Enterprise programme. The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme offers support and funding to help young people to set up in business. Grants and low-cost loans are available and participants are matched up with business mentors to guide them through the process. In Wales, The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme is supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust’s programmes move into work, education or training.
If you would like any further information about Daniel’s new business then please get in touch: www.visualisetrainingandconsultancy.co.uk
Daniel said “My aim is to make a more inclusive society for blind and partially sighted people, I want disabled to be enabled and no longer disabled”. Daniel said “There are currently 2 million people living with a visual impairment in the UK, however this is due to increase to 4 million by 2050 due to people living longer, increasing diabetes and obesity. This means that organisations need to be more aware and start to make positive changes to support these potential customers”
Daniel said “Want To Work and Communities first, have been great at supporting me and have been very positive and saw the capabilities within me. There needs to be more services like these, to support young people back into employment”
Daniel said “you can do anything you want in this world if you put your mind to it you need positive people surrounding you and determination and if you get knocked down well dust yourself off and get back up again.”
“everyone deserves to have a purpose in life and if you really want to achieve something you need to get out there and pursue what you want to achieve and don’t let people put you down”
“The Welsh Government’s Jobs Growth Wales Young Entrepreneurs Bursary is a great scheme and should be rolled out all over the UK, to give young people the opportunity to be creative and create business which will in turn create employment opportunities for people”
“I don’t want to moan about the problem I want be part of the solution and improve service provisions for blind and partially sighted people to make a more inclusive society.”