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Award-winning internship scheme tackles disability inequality

Posted: 25th September 2019

Scotland’s top businesses are joining forces with leading charity Leonard Cheshire to offer disabled students and graduates paid summer work placements in 2020.

Applications have opened for the innovative Change 100 programme – Leonard Cheshire’s award-winning internship scheme – giving disabled and students a worthwhile opportunity to complete three months of paid work experience with leading organisations across a range of industries and sectors.

Previous Change 100 employers have included the BBC, Barclays, North Lanarkshire Council and Taylor Wimpey.

These highly-coveted internships help remove barriers experienced by disabled people in the workplace, allowing them to achieve their full potential and eliminating stigmatisation in employment.

Scott Montgomery, a 2019 Change 100 intern, who completed a work experience placement at the Department of International Development (DFID) in East Kilbride and is now a graduate at the Open University, said:

“Change 100 considered who you are and what you’re there for. My employers were friendly, relaxed, comfortable and supportive in a helpful environment to become part of the team. People in my work life and at home have said that my confidence and IT skills have improved hugely and I feel confident taking on new challenges.”

Change 100 also supports businesses in offering advice and guidance on how to support disabled people and individuals with long-term health conditions.

Christina Houlgrave, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Skanska, said:

“It is really encouraging to be part of a programme that is trying to improve the employment landscape for disabled people, challenging barriers in society and creating sustainable change.

“Taking part in Change 100 has reinforced our view that a few small changes make someone feel welcome and able to perform at their absolute best.”

Change 100 was a finalist for the 2018 National Undergraduate Employability Awards, in the category of Best Disability Initiative in Work Experience, as well as the proud winner of the 2015 and 2016 RIDI Awards.

Victoria Passant, Programme Manager for Leonard Cheshire, said:

“They say ‘be the change that you want to see.’ Employers still miss out on a huge pool of talent because disabled students go underrepresented in the workplace.

“Many organisations have told us that taking on Change 100 interns have helped to change this situation, dispelling misconceptions around disability and shifting the way they attract and retain new talent.”

Applications are open until 8 January 2020. Students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for these highly sought for placements.

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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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