Some of the UK’s biggest employers have praised Change 100, Leonard Cheshire’s trailblazing internship programme, as it marks its fifth year of helping disabled students and graduates find work.
More than 100 organisations said that taking on a disabled intern had a positive impact in the workplace.
Run by disability charity Leonard Cheshire, Change 100 has supported over 400 interns since launching in 2014, along with over 130 employers.
Companies who have taken on graduates as part of the scheme have been overwhelmingly positive, with 90% saying it improved goodwill between colleagues, and 96% saying they would recommend it to other organisations.
Earlier this year, Leonard Cheshire released findings indicating that 1 in 5 disabled people had seen a job offer withdrawn due to disability – but Change 100 has been credited with helping to change the employment landscape.
Sarah Benioff at National Lottery Community Fund, one of the Change 100 employers, said:
“[Our interns] have really spurred us on to consider how we recruit, induct and support all employees and particularly those with hidden (and visible) disabilities.”
Students were similarly eager to talk about what the scheme had done for them.
Sophie Smith, who was an intern in 2018, said:
“I have gone from believing I could never work full time with my health challenge to actively looking at full time graduate opportunities for when I finish my degree.”
Matthew Clark, an intern in 2017, said:
“Change 100’s application process took the pressure off having to manage and present my disability, and not just myself, when applying for work. That gave me a feeling of freedom, equality, and I enjoyed so much being able to shine, openly, alongside other fantastic candidates with disabilities.”
The team behind Change 100 now plan to expand the programme even further, providing 200 internships a year, bring more opportunities to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and enabling more businesses to take disabled interns.
Leonard Cheshire has released a report to mark the fifth anniversary of Change 100, available on its website: www.leonardcheshire.org/fiveyearsofimpact