Rhiann Holloway — Change100 2017 intern, Leonard Cheshire Disability

Rhiann, Change100 2017 intern

Rhiann is a recent graduate from University of Leeds, where she studied english and sociology. Her Change100 placement was with the corporate partnership team at Leonard Cheshire Disability.

‘I developed crohn’s disease during my first year at university, which heavily impacted my studying and made it impossible to hold down a job. My confidence was knocked when one employer discovered my condition and fired me for taking disability-related time off. I then had to leave two subsequent jobs because my condition made it too difficult to stay in work.

‘I discovered Change100 during my final year at university and decided to apply. I had never disclosed my condition to an employer before, due to fear of being seen as ‘the disabled employee’. My experience with Change100 has transformed my view of disability in the workplace.

‘I was placed with Leonard Cheshire Disability in the Corporate Partnerships team, which was the perfect opportunity to gain experience for a career in the charity sector. My role involved writing a funding proposal to create garden projects for disabled people. One of the best aspects of the job was travelling to services and taking part in art workshops and volunteering days with the residents.

‘Meeting the disabled people who use Leonard Cheshire services and getting to know the other Change100 interns has helped me embrace my condition as something that can actually open up opportunities for me. Whereas before, I felt guilty about having a condition that might affect the way I work, I’ve learnt to be unapologetic about my needs because I now know what I am entitled to.

‘The environment at Leonard Cheshire Disability is incredibly inclusive and welcoming, and through the support of my Change100 mentor, my line manager and my team, who have all shown a lot of confidence in me, I feel comfortable disclosing my condition to future employers.

‘Leonard Cheshire has struck the perfect balance of acknowledging disability in order to provide personalised support, while also treating disabled employees with exactly the same standards and respect as those without disabilities. I am so grateful to have been part of Change100 as it has undoubtedly improved my own belief in myself and changed the way I approach disability in the workplace.’