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Mainstreaming accessibility and transforming disability in the workplace.

Patchwork Hub is an inclusive jobs board, training provider and consultancy, offering an end-to-end solution for employers to access a ‘hidden talent pool’ of disabled people, carers, parents and retirees.

How did it all begin?

I founded Patchwork Hub after my own experiences of living and working with a disability. I’ve had to give up on opportunities that I loved because of needless accessibility barriers in the way things are conventionally done. And through my disability advocacy work, I realised I wasn’t alone. In the UK, millions of people are excluded from work, or are working unsustainably, because of such accessibility barriers.

At the same time, when speaking to employers, I saw that they wanted to do better around disability inclusion, but often just weren’t sure how. So I set out to solve those problems with Patchwork Hub, helping jobseekers find roles that they can thrive in and helping employers improve their approaches to disability inclusion and accessibility. Since then, we’ve become a thriving disabled-led social enterprise and don’t show any signs of slowing down soon!

What sets your business apart?

Patchwork Hub is the first mainstream recruitment solution that is accessible and inclusive for all. Although we are a disabled-led social enterprise with some key missions around disability inclusion in the workplace, our jobs platform is open to anyone seeking accessible employment opportunities with inclusive employers. By providing a hub of centralised flexible work opportunities, expert training, community and resources, we support professionals and employers to upskill themselves and discover a better way of working.

What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?

The world of work has changed in recent years, but our model of work has not. In the UK, the disability employment gap (the difference in employment rate between disabled people and non-disabled people) currently sits at around 30%.

Meanwhile, for businesses, there is a skilled worker shortage with 9/10 employers struggling to find the right talent for their organisation. At Patchwork Hub, therefore, we’re building a leading employment platform and end-to-end set of services which enable employers to become more inclusive and accessible, and to help our ‘hidden talent pool’ to find work, support and community.

Where to next/What is your brand vision?

Over the next few years, we’re looking to scale up quickly to become the mainstream accessible employment platform and a go-to provider of disability inclusion services. At the same time, we hope to expand our support to our community of Patchworkers seeking work and opportunities. All this feeds into our broader vision to drive long-lasting positive change in the world of work, promoting ‘decent work for all’.

Beth Kume-Holland

Founder of

Patchwork Hub

What do you feel passionate about/what drives you?

Creating positive change and ensuring that disabled people are fully integrated into the future model of work, front and center of the change.

Share an example of early life that has shaped you?

A key moment that shaped me and the work that I do today was my experience as a graduate student in the United States. People’s relationship with their disability identity can be complex – during my time in the US my health was deteriorating while I was out there, and it was the first time that I really came to see myself as disabled and had to advocate for adjustments I needed at the university. This got me involved in disability advocacy more broadly, and I had some amazing experiences, such as going to Washington DC, meeting with Congressional Offices and Senators, all to advocate for increased funding for patients with my conditions.

Highlights of your business journey so far?

Where do I begin?! Patchwork Hub’s journey has left me with so many highlights. From being named in the Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 as one of the most influential disabled people in the UK, through to being named in NatWest and The Telegraph’s 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch, it’s been quite the ride.

However, it’s those moments where I see the impact of our work that really keeps me going. Whether it’s someone securing employment via Patchwork Hub in a role that really works for them, or seeing employers make impactful changes to their processes for the better after working with us, these moments stand out the brightest for me.

Key lessons you have learned along the way?

You learn a lot, and quickly, when you’re a solo founder! One key lesson I’ve learned is around valuing myself and my time. When you work on issues around disability, for some reason people often assume that you will do your work for free, or for ‘exposure’, and it can sometimes be tempting to do it when it supports the social mission you really care about. But with my clients being big companies, I’ve learned the hard way that drawing clear boundaries, and ensuring a focus on revenue, is the (necessary) best way to ultimately grow a sustainable business and maximise the social impact side of our work.

Best piece of advice you have received?

Take the time to think long-term, even when at times it feels like you can’t see the wood for the trees. As a business owner, it’s all too easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind and forget the bigger picture. However, thinking long-term will inform even the smallest of details and will enable you and your business to constantly evolve, grow and make a bigger impact than everyday thinking can.

Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?

My main piece of advice to any aspiring entrepreneur or career starter is not to worry about failing! Every successful entrepreneur fails at multiple points and this is a key part of the journey. So consider your options, circumstances and lifestyle you want for the next few years and don’t lose faith when you inevitably fail and fall flat on your face at times. If you have true belief in your idea and vision, know that – in the words of one of the quotes I have pinned up on my wall “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?

For Patchwork Hub, ethical funding with a social impact perspective is extremely important to us. Although bootstrapped for the majority of our existence and relying upon revenue and grant funding to fuel growth and development, we are currently going through our first round of investment to take our organisation to the next level. We are therefore seeking value-aligned funders and angel investors to invest in our vision for the future world of work. If that’s you, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?

As a disabled female founder, attitudinal barriers are particularly prevalent. By that, I just mean the assumptions that people make about lives disabled people can lead, the skills they can have and the things that they can achieve.

I’ve lost count of the number of times that people have assumed, because I am disabled and my business is focused on disability inclusion, that it must be a small-scale, charity-style model. While I’ve also been in situations where I’ve seen doubt and a change in attitudes when the people I’m talking to realise that I am disabled myself.

Why is it important to support women-led business?

Working in the tech space, I’m often the only woman in the room, let alone the only disabled woman. This has taught me to be resilient and stand for what I think is right, but also shows the long way we have to go in terms of female foundership (and disabled foundership) in the tech industry. This, to me, is why supporting women-led businesses is crucial.

60

Seconds

with

Beth Kume-Holland

My inspiration is...

the people I’ve met in the disabled community and our allies.

My greatest fear is...

letting down the people who we’re trying to help.

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is...

flying to washington dc as a disability advocate to lobby congress.

Guilty pleasure?

a takeaway and a marvel film.

Mantra you live by?

“one person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

Female role model?

nannie burroughs.

Women-led brand you love?

unhidden.

Top productivity tool?

slack for team communication and collaboration!

Patchwork Hub has created a SPECIAL OFFER exclusively for Women's Chapter Members

for FREE to view offers

Connect with

Patchwork Hub

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