Working at the Royal National Institute for Blind People is a real passion for Rosaleen. As someone who is visually impaired due to a genetic condition called albinism, she’s enthusiastic about making sure the government are giving the right support to visually impaired children and their families. Over ten years into her career, she never thought she would be facing the challenges of a different condition: Ulcerative Colitis.

“It all happened in a bit of a whirlwind! Early 2016 I started to notice that I was going to the toilet more often. I’d been going back and forth to the doctor, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It wasn’t until I developed anaemia that they realised I had been passing blood – something I had no idea of due to being visually impaired. I was taken to hospital and officially diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and put on treatment. It took 3 months for me to feel well enough to go back to work.

My manager was really understanding and linked me up with HR to support me getting back to work. I suppose to an extent, I was confident to ask for adjustments for my Colitis because I’m so used to doing it for being visually impaired – I have loads of experience in explaining health things to people! But it helps that my manager is so supportive and prioritises my health above everything. I gradually built up my hours back to full-time over a month. We decided I would start a ‘9-day fortnight’ timetable, where I work more hours over the first 9 days, then take the tenth day off. It really helps me manage fatigue."

Caireen, Rosaleen’s manager says, “I check in with Rosaleen regularly to see how she’s feeling and whether there’s anything we can do to help her. But I try not to overdo it – I don’t want her to feel like she’s being watched! It’s all about making her feel empowered at work. Rosaleen is a huge asset to our team. Because she can outwardly appear fine even when she’s feeling really unwell, it’s important that she feels supported to communicate that to me.”

Although it’s been tough working from home since March 2020, Rosaleen feels optimistic about the future. “Because of my conditions, I’m used to doing things differently. Humans tend to try and adapt. Now that we’ve seen the benefits of online working, I’m looking forward to seeing things become more accessible.”

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