‘I felt so supported’

27 September 2018

By Emma Cook

Hi, I’m Emma, am 22 and I live in Whittlesey, near Peterborough, Cambs. I’ve been studying for an undergraduate degree in Media and Communications at the University of Leicester.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which knocked my self-confidence with work and I felt I was useless as I couldn’t do all the things I needed to in my job. 

Kerisha and Emma, Change 100 interns

I couldn’t work for as long and I would end days in so much pain, feeling exhausted but not being able to fall asleep. I went through occupational therapy which brought my stamina up but I still have to take regular breaks and constantly check that there aren’t any mistakes in my work from fatigue.

I didn't want to be treated differently

I never knew how to disclose my disability to employers as I was always worried that asking for adjustments would ruin my chances of actually getting the job. I didn’t want my colleagues to treat me differently because of it or for people to not think I could do the job just because I needed adjustments.

I am currently on a Leonard Cheshire Change 100 programme working at Gedling Borough Council, in Nottinghamshire, as an internal communications intern. I am involved in promoting the employee benefit scheme and training staff in how the schemes work as well as working to improve internal communications within different service areas.

I have felt so supported

My experience of being on the Change 100 programme has been absolutely brilliant!! I cannot stop talking about how amazing it is and how much I’ve learnt in these 10 weeks! I have felt so supported by Floree and the team by their check-ins, emails and when I’ve spoken about my placement, I feel like they are genuinely happy for me. 

I have gained so much confidence and feel that I can actually do a job like this and work my way up. It has taught me that asking for adjustments such as work from home days, or regular rest breaks, has no bearing on whether I can do the job and that it doesn’t have to be a big deal. 

I'm taken seriously

Gedling Borough Council has been so amazing with opportunities such as doing a Learning and Development qualification, so I can train other adults in things I’ve learnt. I have felt that I’m taken seriously with my ideas and my work and that even though I’m only here for a short time they want to invest in me, to help me with my career in the future. 

My manager and colleagues have been so welcoming and made me feel at home and that no question is a stupid question. I am incredibly grateful to this programme and my employer. I have found out what area of communication I’m good at and interested in. I’ve been able to mix with people at the very top of the company as well.

This programme has made me feel hopeful about getting a job after university and more able to disclose my disability when starting a new job. 

Applications are now open for 2019 summer interships — apply today!

Emma is a 2018 Change 100 intern.

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