The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated by the UN every year on 3rd December.
For Hatch this date is extra special because it also marks Purple Sock Day – a campaign from Parallel to celebrate disabled entrepreneurship. Through selling purple socks, this campaign is raising money to support more disabled people to access support from Hatch to launch their own businesses.
The traditional workplace can present a number of barriers for people with disabilities, particularly in regard to travel requirements, rigid schedules, and lack of accommodations or understanding of individual needs.
Data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that about half of disabled working aged people in the UK are in employment compared with about 80 percent of those without a disability.
However, when it comes to self-employment a higher proportion of disabled people are represented (13.8%) than non-disabled people (12.5%). We know that the flexibility and autonomy that comes with running your own business can make a real difference to the lives of disabled people which is why we’re so glad to be able to offer this additional support through the Purple Sock Fund.
We spoke to one of our programme graduates, Martha Bennett, about why she chose to pursue entrepreneurship, and how having a disability impacts the way she runs her business.
Martha completed an Accelerator programme with Hatch to develop her business Ludo Tutors, a service providing bespoke tuition for children and their families around the world.
She is neurodiverse and also has endometriosis, a hidden disability which causes a lot of pain and chronic fatigue, among other symptoms.
“Entrepreneurship lends itself really well to people with disabilities because it just offers you that degree of flexibility. It means that you can pick your working environment, and it also means that you can have some flexibility when it comes to scheduling as well,” she explains.
“With my chronic fatigue for example, I just can’t work a nine to five, but I can get that work done super quickly in three or four hours when I’m up to it during the day.
“I once face planted off a train at London Bridge Station on my way to a client because I fainted from the pain. Endometriosis can be really, really extreme, but even if it’s not, those kind of symptoms can grind you down day to day.
“So being an entrepreneur helps with that, it also means that if you need to take time off for appointments or medication, or if you’re having a particularly bad flare up of something like endometriosis, it means that you can give that time to yourself.”
Martha believes that living with a disability has meant that she has had to develop an abundance of resilience, persistence, and empathy, all vital skills for an entrepreneur.
The Purple Sock Fund last year raised over £14,000 to support disabled entrepreneurs to thrive, and one founder to benefit so far is Sylvia Mac.
Thanks to the training and mentoring provided on the course Sylvia has been able to realise her dream of starting a talent agency, Love Disfigure Talent, representing people with a disability or difference.
Sylvia, a grandmother-of-three, was not expected to survive a childhood accident which left her badly burned, and she went on to suffer from long-term effects including extensive scarring, chronic pain, depression, and anxiety.
She said: “Receiving the grant from the Purple Sock Day Fund and completing the Hatch Enterprise course changed my life. It feels amazing to finally call myself a business owner. Without it I would never have reached this point. I would encourage everyone to wear their purple socks on December 3rd, as your support means so much.”
Hatch graduate, and founder of Unhidden Clothing, Victoria Jenkins is one of the ambassadors of the Purple Sock campaign. Victoria gave a TEDx Talk earlier this year on the pervasiveness of ableism, and why universal design is the way forward. Her business is making waves in the fashion world and she is a huge advocate for disabled innovation and entrepreneurship.
Every pair of purple socks purchased during this campaign is a step in the right direction, and is enabling disabled people to access the right opportunities, resources, and support to unlock their entrepreneurial potential. Get your pair on the BAM website here.