Tony Richards — Change100 intern 2014

Tony Richards outside Number 10Tony Richards joined Leonard Cheshire Disability in the charity’s policy and campaigns department for his Change100 placement. The team campaigns in the UK and influences governments, businesses and the public to create a better world for the 1 in 6 people who are disabled.

The 25-year-old, who has dyspraxia and dyslexia, was one of four disabled students at a reception held at Downing Street in May who are about to take their first steps on the career ladder. This has been made possible through Leonard Cheshire’s innovative Change100 programme which offers paid internships with high performing companies in the UK.

He said: ‘I was very flattered to be invited to go to Downing Street and it was an experience that I won’t forget. The Cameron family have had first hand experience of supporting a disabled family member, so it was great to hear Samantha’s speech.

‘The reception raised awareness of disability and highlighted the skills, dedication and loyalty that disabled people can offer. I hope more organisations will get involved in the Change100 programme as a result of it.’

Tony who studied an MSc in public policy and philosophy at the London School of Economics (LSE) is passionate about campaigning. He was also a disability representative whilst at the University of York where he studied a BA in history. He was part of a successful campaign to grant disabled people extra support and time during open examinations.

He welcomes the Change100 programme as he says that, other than the civil service, there are not many accessible recruitment processes for people who have an impairment. He added: ‘I have had some negative experiences when applying for graduate schemes. I am dyslexic yet I have been required to take part in literacy and numeracy tests and given no extra allowances or support. Although this makes me feel frustrated, it motivates me to campaign harder and fight for equal opportunities.’

Tony couldn't wait to join Leonard Cheshire and feels it will be a great opportunity for him to get some valuable work experience. He says: ‘As well as providing care and support to disabled people, Leonard Cheshire listens to what people want to campaign about.

‘This is something I can connect with as I have faced discrimination personally and there is still a long way to go before everyone is treated on an equal basis.’

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