Oct 19, 2022 • 33M

Inside a chronic illness-friendly workplace

"It's the smallest changes that make the biggest difference"

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Welcome to The Rest Room: a place to explore what it means to live (and live well) with chronic illness.
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In the last episode of The Rest Room podcast, we explored the tricky beast of navigating work when you live with chronic illness.

As I mentioned, there are many people who are too unwell to work, but there are also many of us who (with the right roles, adjustments and support) may be able to work even a little bit.

With the help of my guests Pippa Stacey and Bruce Daisley, we discussed everything from the barriers we can face when it comes to finding flexible and meaningful work, to a whole bunch of extremely helpful and practical advice that I hope will benefit you whether you’re looking for a job, or need to get support to help you do your role to the best of your abilities.

This week, we’re flipping the topic on its head, and exploring what employers can do to create flexible workplaces that are inclusive for people living with chronic illness.

I’m delighted to share a conversation I recently had with the bloomin’ delightful Faye Savory from BearHugs, a social enterprise which offers hug in a box gift hampers. 

Half of Faye’s workforce are either chronically ill or disabled and her business has taken amazing steps to create flexible opportunities, enabling people to work around their health needs.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Faye’s personal experience of becoming an entrepreneur and balancing her own health

  • Why she’s so passionate about creating opportunities for chronically ill people

  • How BearHugs has worked to “normalise” a flexible work culture

  • The different structural/business ways BearHugs is creating an inclusive workplace

  • The benefits of these accommodations on non-chronically ill staff

And much more!

There’s also lot of incredibly helpful practical advice for employers (and employees) about navigating this world.

As you’ll hear, Faye has had to think outside the box and it’s been a real process of trial and error. She’s the first to admit that BearHugs still doesn’t have everything perfectly figured out, but as she says “it's the smallest changes that make the biggest difference.”

I left the call having learned a bunch about different ways of working, and feeling hopeful and inspired. I can only imagine what a game-changer working for a company like BearHugs would have been for me when I was first trying to figure out how to work whilst poorly.

This episode is not only great for business owners (chronically ill or not…especially not - please share with people you know who run businesses!) but it also gives a real insight into the types of things we as employees can look for (and ask for) when it comes to finding an accessible employer.


To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google. If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.


Do check out the BearHugs website if you’d like to support Faye’s small, inclusive business. 

Thanks to my brilliant producer Philly Guillou at OG Podcasts, to Lucy Dove for the episode art, and to Amit Rai for my intro music.