Change100 intern visits Number 10

22 May 2014

Tony Richards outside Number 10by Tony Richards, Change100 intern in 2014

Invitations to places like Number 10 usually come when people are well established and have made a mark in some field of endeavour. I was therefore excited and flattered to be invited by Samantha Cameron to Number 10 at the very beginning of my career. The invitation was in recognition of my achievements, and those of the three others present that evening, making it onto the Change100 internship scheme run by Leonard Cheshire.

It was good to talk to Mrs Cameron, someone who knows first hand the impact disabilities can have on the lives of people. It was stimulating to see the commitment she showed to Leonard Cheshire by hosting the event in the prime minister’s official residence.

Talking to employers who attended the event was an excellent experience. They seemed passionate about putting aside the hurdles often faced by disabled people in realising their potential.

I spoke with Mark Smith of Standard Life, one of the employers working with Change100, about the things that inhibit equality in recruitment processes. Employers’ inability (either intentional or unintentional) to look beyond a job candidate’s disability is something that Mark recognises and is passionate about fighting against.

As I have personally experienced difficulties with recruitment processes as a result of my dyslexia, it was really encouraging to meet employers like Mark who really understand the challenges for disabled people seeking employment, the benefits to companies of engaging disabled people, and where we need to go next in order to change things for the better.

Samantha closed the event with a moving speech about the great potential disabled people can bring to the table. An encouraging and motivational end to what had been an extraordinary day.

As I left I said goodbye to the many fantastic people I had met, including Team GB Paralympic sprint champion Ben Rushgrove, who gave me a high five. Now that’s something I surely didn't expect!

Tony begins his Change100 placement in summer 2014. Find out more about Change100 and how you can get involved, whether as a student or a business.

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