Today marks the annual UN Social Justice Day, a day celebrating that “We all can advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.”
This year a key theme of the day is recognising the effort of communities to support full employment, decent work and social wellbeing for all. Many DAA members, including Leonard Cheshire, actively work towards increasing the range of opportunities for disabled people in the UK. In line with DAA priorities, there is a strong commitment to support Disabled People to fulfil their potential in what truly is a very diverse job market.
However, research undertaken by Leonard Cheshire concludes that three quarters of the public still believe that there are some jobs disabled people can’t do. We are pleased to say that DAA members are challenging these perceptions, showing that disabled people can do every possible kind of job. Examples of disabled people challenging such perceptions include a deaf physiotherapist, a blind tour guide and a visually impaired builder.
Leonard Cheshire is committed to changing this perception. One of the ways that they are doing this is through their ‘Innovative Change100’ programme. The programme provides paid work placements, lasting three months, for talented disabled students from leading universities. Placements are based in a range of industries and cover a number of roles.
Gemma Bull, Managing Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “We know there are tremendously talented disabled people searching for work and they could be our country’s future entrepreneurs if they are given the chance. We also know that our best companies value talent. That is why we launched Change100 – to provide life-changing opportunities for disabled undergraduates to work for leading employers.
Sophie Stowell challenged perceptions that disabled people can’t pursue a career in banking. The 21-year-old, who has a visual impairment and achieved a double first at Cambridge University, has secured a place on Barclay’s graduate scheme following her work placement.
Payal Jain, Managing Director of Strategic Analytics at Barclaycard, describes the Change100 programme as “very inspiring”. She had this to say about the programme:
“My advice to any business considering being part of the Change100 programme would be to go for it – it’s that simple. It’s really valuable not only for the individual participants themselves, who get real hands-on experience of working in a busy commercial environment, but also in raising awareness amongst organisations and employers of the talents that candidates of all abilities can bring to business.”
At a recent Barclaycard event Payal saw Sophie surrounded by more than 80 primary school children.” Sophie was very at ease and seemed to be enjoying herself. Payal said “It was a special moment for me as it represented how far Sophie has come and how much her confidence has improved.”
Payal also recognises Change100’s role in the internship’s success, both for Sophie and Barclays. Recognising the support that the programme provides to employers and the work undertaken to raise awareness, Payal also commented on the support provided to the individual participants:
“It is not just about the application and selection process. Once the interns have joined the organisation, they’ve got someone to talk to about the challenges they face and how these can be addressed.”
Leonard Cheshire are very excited to see that this programme in is making a concrete contribution to increasing the range of opportunities available to talented disabled people in the UK. Gemma Bull said “Following the Change100 launch last year every student who was seeking work secured employment. The results are excellent and hopefully will encourage other disabled students to apply.”
This is a very exciting example of how DAA members are working towards increasing access to full employment, decent work and social wellbeing. Hurrah for Social Justice Day!
To find out more visit: www.leonardcheshire.org/change100