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How do II get back to work after 7 years off with RA?

Hello everyone,

I am 50 years old and have had RA and have had various medications/treatments for 7 years. I haven't worked during this time but financial pressures mean that I need to return to work. The trouble is, having been out of the job market for so long and now there are thousands of 'healthy' people competing for very few jobs, I am at a loss as to know how or where to start in putting myself back on the job market. I used to work as a secretary but my skills are so out of date and I don't have many financial resources to retrain or update my skills. Does anyone here have any ideas where I should start and how I can make myself marketable in a highly competitive job market with a chronic disease like RA?

Thank you in advance for your replies.

5 Replies

Hi, one of the things you could do is ring up or go to your local Job Centre and ask to speak to their Disability Employment Advisor.- Specially trained staff who should be able to help and who know about various Access to Work schemes.

There are lots of Business/Admin courses available at FE colleges where you can retrain or renew your skills. And many of the courses are part-time, and some are free if you are on certain benefits. So if you have a college nearby you could phone them and ask if they have course to suit you.

Hope this is some help. Good luck to you!


I agree with Phoebe that a Disability Employment Advisor should be able to help you .

Another option is have a look at they have some informative sections on their website.

Good Luck :)


The other thing you could try is to do a little bit of voluntary work, as some organisations might help you with brushing up your skills in return for a some hours of work. It also helps to show employers that you are up to working. If not have you also tried some of the temp agencies. Lower paid but again you might find someone looking for for something temporary that would help you adjust. Good luck - it's tough,so I hope you find something soon. Polly


Hi. I was off work for 8 years and I am now 42. Trying to get back into work was nightmare. The temp agencies basically told me no chance. They all wanted a 5 year work history and one, Encore, were really rude! I went to see a disability employment advisor. The job center themselves did not have much to offer due to cuts I was told. It was also evident they had no idea how having RA can effect a person and don't understand it. I asked to be referred to Remploy which I was and they have been great. I used to be an electronic repair tech but couldn't go back to that - fiddly work and soldering - and my hands are knackered. Main problem I had was that employers are very reluctant to take on people who have been out of work for a long time.They are curious as to what you've been up to while you've been off and if you say it was due to illness they are put off. Lack of previous employer references was a real problem. Remploy can get you on work placements and get you training and work out what jobs you can do. I got a work placement at Matalan. It was 4 weeks, 4 hours a day, 4 days a week. I wasn't paid but it got me out of the house, learned new skills, met some great people and got someone to put down for a reference. I have a Food Hygiene Certificate which was done at the Remploy office and paid for by them. I started a job in March. Its only just over 8hrs a week cleaning but its a start. The company that employ me work with Remploy. Its been a long road and I did almost give up hope at one point but you have to stick with it. I don't know if you have a Remploy office where you live but if you have it might be worth going down that route but you do have to be referred by Disability Advisor. Good luck.



Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for your replies which have been very helpful.

I am already doing some voluntary work as I thought this would help me get back to work and help other people at the same time. I will make an appointment to see the Disability Adviser at the Job Centre. I suppose I already know what to do - it's just getting over the fear of returning to work is what I really need to do. Having been out of work and ill for so long, getting myself back into the job market is a scary thing to do.

But thanks for all the kind advice everyone, it's given a boost to my confidence.


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