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About Catherine Hale

I am a disabled researcher, coproduction and inclusion consultant. I founded Chronic Illness Inclusion and, through this work, developed the concept of energy-limiting conditions (ELCs) as a tool for disability advocacy. 

My work centres on disability employment, chronic illness, flexible working, disability benefits, work and health, disability inclusion and ableism. 

Energy limiting conditions affect 1 in 3 disabled people in the UK. 'ELC' and 'energy impairment' are a new way of describing long term conditions that restrict the amount and pace of activity someone can do. ELCs are typically fluctuating conditions and are a type of invisible, or less-apparent, disability. The term ELC allows disabled people to advocate for equality and inclusion on the basis of the impact of their health condition, regardless of medical understandings of cause or diagnosis.

For collaboration and consultancy you can contact me via a contact form in the menu button.

My Work

My 'proper jobs' have been few and far between because formal employment generally doesn't fit around my disability. Instead, most of my work has been in the form of research projects, collaborations with NGOs and academics, reports, policy engagement and consultancy. My publications are here.

Proper jobs

Research Lead and Head of Astriid Consulting Astriid (January 2022 – December 2023)

-          Developed disability inclusion training for businesses on supporting people with long term conditions at work, including flexible working and inclusive recruitment.

-          Led research into Astriid candidate’s barriers to employment and support needs.

Founding Director and Research Lead Chronic Illness Inclusion Project (2017 - 2022)

-          Lead researcher and project manager, CIIP, part of the DRILL programme.

-          Founder and Director, Chronic Illness Inclusion, an advocacy organization promoting rights and inclusion for people with energy limiting conditions and chronic pain.

Research and coproduction projects

2024 Consultant researcher, Can flexible job design improve employment outcomes for people with fluctuating disabilities? King's College London.

2023 PPI facilitator, NIHR: Building towards a vision ofWork-Health Expert Research Collaboration.

2022 Associate Researcher, University of Liverpool. Disbelief and Disregard in relation to medicine, chronic illness and disability

2021 Coproduction Lead, University of Kent. Towards Dignity, Security and Fairness in benefit systems across Europe.

2020-2021 Research Associate, Leeds University Business School, Chronic illness, employment and social security. ESRC Knowledge Exchange Programme.

2021 Research consultancy for the Centre for Health and Disability Assessment (Maximus) on the customer journey with PIP and WCA.

2018-2021 Commissioner, The Commission on Social Security led by Experts by Experience (University of Warwick/Trust for London)

Impact - policy and media work

Invited speaker, Employment Related Services Association’s (ERSA) Employer Engagement Forum, chaired by Prof Jo Ingold. September 2023.

Invited speaker, “Energy limiting conditions and the impact on work”. Business Disability Forum, Employment Network event. March 2023.

Podcast guest, Workworkwork Future of Work Lab, University of Melbourne.

Expert witness, Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into health assessments for benefits, 2022.

Invited speaker, Disability and Social Inclusion seminar series. City University. 2021

Expert witness, Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the disability employment gap, 2021.

BBC Radio 4 interview You and Yours, 2020. Speaking about energy impairment and disability inclusion.

Invited speaker, The Future of Assessments and Social Security for Disabled People for Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, 2018.

BBC Ouch podcast guest ‘Rationing energy – and other chronic illness life hacks’, 2017.


Advisory roles and networks

 ‘Cripping the Exhaustion Economy’ ISRF/Liverpool University

Talking about Poverty’ On Road Media (Heard) /Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Member of Independent Living Strategy Group, chaired by Baroness Jane Campbell.

Beyond a safe and secure transition’ Scottish Campaign on Rights to Social Security.

Welfare at a Social Distance’ University of Salford/ESRC

Covid Realities’ University of York/Birmingham/CPAG.

A Refuge for All: improving access to violence and abuse services for disabled women. Shaping Our Lives.

Member of Spartacus Network of disabled researchers (2013-2016)


Popular posts from this blog

Sickness and the Social Model of Disability

This is the first part in a series of blog posts that will explore the uneasy relationship between chronic illness and the social model of disability. From my perspective as a Sick person (more on that controversial word next time) I will explore why people with chronic illness often feel excluded from the Disability Rights Movement (DRM) that emerged out of the social model. But rather than reject the social model I’ll discuss how we, the Sick community, could claim it for ourselves and what a social model of chronic illness would look like. The crucial distinction between impairment and disability lies at the heart of the revolutionary Social Model of Disability that emerged in the 1970s – the model that underpins the disability rights and independent living movements. To paraphrase it simply, impairment is loss of bodily function, whereas disability is disadvantage imposed upon people with impairments due to hostile social attitudes or inaccessible physical environments. 

What are energy-limiting conditions? An introduction to chronic illness at work

What are energy limiting conditions? A guide for employees and their managers is a new resource, produced for Astriid charity. I hope it will be a gamechanger for unlocking conversations about health, disability and work, and lead to more people with chronic illness getting the support they need at work. I've lived with an energy limiting condition (ELC) for decades, but for a long time, I didn’t have the language to describe my needs and ask for adjustments that could have helped me take part in life.  I didn't even know if I was allowed to do so, because I didn't see people like me in representations of disability or in the landscape of disability rights.  The work I did with Chronic Illness Inclusion (CII) taught me that many of us feel the same. The gap between our day-to-day reality and society's understanding of chronic illness as a form of disability is vast. Many people report that this conceptual gap, and the lack of understanding from everyone - from friends

Mapping Disability - Sickness and the social model II

In my introduction to this series I talked about how chronic illness feels relegated to the outer fringes of the established disability rights movement. We (who sometimes call ourselves "spoonies") tend to locate our disadvantage and exclusion more in our malfunctioning bodies, than in society's failure to accommodate us. As a result we sometimes overlook and fail to address the discrimination and the hostile attitudes that disable us still further. And we get dismissed as unemancipated, or worse, as traitors to the cause, by veterans of the DR movement who may fail to understand the lived experience of an impairment very different to their own. So this is an attempt to redraw the map of disability, or rather of impairment, so that the experience of chronic illness is less peripheral. The idea is this: all forms of disability/impairment* can be located along two axes: Well to Ill, and Visible to Invisible. I realise how challenging it is to attempt to place cond