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Disability and Quality of Life Survey

A story of achievement through adversity - Jamie's story

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As part of our public survey, open to everyone in the UK with lived experience of disability, in September 2019 we are sharing personal stories from members of the PurpleSpace network - an organisation of disability inclusion experts.

Remember, anyone in the UK can complete the survey, whether they are employees, clients, customers or members of the public.

This week we share the story of Jamie, a police Detective Inspector who has colitis and liver disease.

“I joined the police force when I was 19. I’ll be 35 soon.

“My diagnosis came as a shock. Every medical intervention that the doctors tried for my colitis didn’t work, so it came to a point in 2013 where I had to have my entire colon removed. I now have an ileostomy bag.

“I spent a lot of time in hospital. On my return to work, I didn’t feel very supported by my employer, especially when I was pulled in for a meeting about unsatisfactory attendance. and put on performance procedures. I didn’t feel like I was treated as an individual.

“Culture has changed in policing since then – it is more supportive of people with disabilities and ill health. I took it upon myself to drive that change, so I got involved with our internal staff support network, the disability network and the national Disabled Police Association. We need to help people be recognised for what they can do rather than what they can’t do.

“I chair our support network and I’ve written articles about my own disabilities that have been shared across the force, and started newsletters to publish colleagues’ experiences to help them with their own confidence, and to give their managers an insight.

“When I first joined policing, if people couldn’t manage an element of front line policing, they would be found a ‘safe’ job in an office somewhere, with very little career prospects. Now that conversation has changed so that disability and ill health doesn’t have to hold you back.

“In terms of my own role, I’ve had some adjustments made; I don’t work night shifts because of my liver disease and my issues with fatigue. Most frontline policing roles require cover for 24-hour periods, so it’s a difficult adjustment to have when it comes to promotions.

“I have had to get more experience in strategic roles, for example I did a secondment at the Home Office to work on national policing policy. This allowed me to bring a different type of experience to the table and I got a promotion!

“I’ve supported a lot of people on a one-to-one basis, with topics such as reasonable workplace adjustments. Having been through all that myself, I know who to approach and move those conversations along.                         

“When you get a diagnosis initially, it feels negative, like something that is going to stop you from doing what you want to do. But if you embrace it as another challenge, it can an be incredibly positive experience. I wouldn’t be half as resilient as I am without it.

As Sodexo is a disability confident leader, we are committed to inclusivity. Engaging employees and customers with disabilities is central to this work. 

Take part in our survey today, which is open until Wednesday 2 October. The results will help us to make recommendations about the needs of people with disabilities, and this in turn will positively impact thousands of lives.

The survey is open to everyone in the UK, so feel free to share the link with friends and family!

If you have any questions relating to the survey, please email:


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