03:26AM, Monday 22 April 2013
A Windsor woman who devotes her life to helping disabled people get good jobs has been a wheelchair user from childhood.
Helen Cooke, 43, of Clarence Road had a spinal tumour as a baby. After 10 successful years as a human resources manager at Mars in Slough she set up her own company My Plus in 2005, advising top companies on how to get the best out of talented employees who have a disability.
Barclays, Sainsbury's, Microsoft and the National Grid have all used her services. She is currently organising a big event in London on June 10 called GO-Great Opportunities, designed to bring young, disabled people together with companies and businesses that can employ them.
She said: "I'm not a recruiting agency. I work with companies to build up their confidence and knowledge about employing people with a disability.
"Work is good for us. It builds our confidence, it is where we make friends and what gets us up in the morning.
"There are still too many talented, disabled individuals who look at big companies and think 'they don't want people like me'. A large talent pool is being wasted.
"Obviously the employee has to be confident and aspirational but the company needs to know what it is doing too, so the employee gets the equipment or support they need to show their talents."
Helen, who is marrying her fiancé physiotherapist Michael Thomas this August, applied to eight companies for a job at the start of her career.
She said: "I'll never know if the jobs I didn't get were because I'm disabled.
"One recruitment consultant did change their attitude when he became aware of my disability and a job interview did not materialise."
Visit go-greatopportunities.com for details.
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