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HM The Queen meets LCD

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HM The Queen meets LCD

20th May 2014

  • Samantha Cameron hosts reception to celebrate talented young disabled people
  • Sophie Stowell, 21, secures placement with Barclays through Leonard Cheshire's innovative Change100 programme
A group of undergraduates was given a rare opportunity to meet Samantha Cameron at Downing Street yesterday (20 May). The reception was held on behalf of the leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.

The Prime Minister's wife met with Sophie Stowell, Tony Richards, Karar Saeed and Lucy Crouch, who are about to take their first steps onto the career ladder. This has been made possible through the charity's Change100 programme which offers paid work experience with high performing companies in the UK.

Currently, more than half of working age disabled people are out of work – a shocking waste of talent. The innovative programme tackles this by matching top businesses, who are always seeking top talent, with exceptional disabled students. Each participant will receive coaching and guidance throughout their three-month placement, supporting them to thrive and excel within the workplace.

Sophie Stowell, who has a visual impairment, will step up and join Barclays Retail Banking Scheme in June. Before being offered the paid placement, the Cambridge University undergraduate, who is studying Natural Science, admits her confidence was low and thought that employers would not be interested in her because of her disability.

"I studied extremely hard at university, but at points I questioned whether it was all worth it. I couldn't understand why a company would offer a job to someone with a disability when they can employ a non-disabled person instead," says the 21 year old who learnt at the age of 13 that she had a degenerative eye condition.

"Meeting Samantha Cameron was incredibly inspiring. She was genuinely interested to hear about me and how I am feeling about my placement. I can't wait to get started and relish the chance to expand on my skills with such a high profile organisation like Barclays."

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: "This reception is a great opportunity to raise awareness of these tremendously talented disabled people, who are aiming high and searching for work. They could be our country's future leaders or entrepreneurs.

"We know that our best companies value talent. We have had wonderful feedback from employers about the quality of our candidates through the Change100 programme. It is a match made in heaven when we can introduce an exceptional disabled undergraduate seeking work to a successful employer desperately seeking top talent."

Minita Patel, the Barclays Future Leaders Development Programme Selection & Assessment Manager, added: "We are delighted to support Leonard Cheshire Disability's Change100 programme that brings young disabled people into the workforce.

"This is an exciting new partnership for us and we are really looking forward to welcoming talented individuals like Sophie. The calibre of candidates was very strong and no doubt they will be a great asset to our teams."

Barclays, Standard Life, Experian and SABMiller plc have all accepted ambitious undergraduates through the Change100 scheme. Representatives from the businesses joined the guests at the Downing Street reception.

If you are a business and would like to find out more about offering a three month placement through the charity's Change100 programme, you can find out more by visiting www.leonardcheshire.org/change100. We also offer coaching and other support for businesses involved in the programme.

In 2013 we also launched our 'Me and My Shadow' Programme which offers young disabled people the chance to shadow high profile women who are leaders in their professions. Some of those young disabled women –who gained valuable insight and inspiration - attended the reception at 10 Downing Street.

To see the latest on entrepreneurship click HERE

Media enquiries

For photos, interviews and media enquires contact: Amy Burns. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Direct line: 020 3242 0313. General press office number: 020 3242 0399. Out-of-hours: 07903 949 388.

Notes for the editor

Leonard Cheshire Disability is one of the UK's largest voluntary sector providers of services to disabled people. We support thousands of people with physical and learning disabilities in the UK and we work with Cheshire partner organisations in 54 countries around the world. We campaign for change and provide innovative services that give disabled people the opportunity to live life their way. Visit www.leonardcheshire.org

Leonard Cheshire Disability's new internship programme is shaping the future for young people and business in the UK. Change100 brings together the UK's top employers and talented disabled students. To find out more visit: www.leonardcheshire.org/change100


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