UK’s top companies challenged to employ talented disabled workers

  • Leading charity calls on the UK’s top FTSE100 companies to make the most of disabled people’s talents
  • Change 100 launched to support disabled undergraduates into work placements
  • Programme to give at least 100 disabled students 100 day work placements on a living wage by September

Leonard Cheshire Disability logoLeonard Cheshire Disability is today (Thursday 18 July) urging CEOs of the UK’s leading FTSE 100 companies to pledge their support to bring disabled students into the workforce.

The charity is contacting the companies that make up the FTSE 100 to join its >Change 100 programme by providing work placements for disabled undergraduates and giving them an opportunity to get their first introduction to work.

Speaking at the UK’s first national disability employment conference in central London – which brings together 300 employers, government and charities – Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, said:

“We know that our best companies value talent. We also know there are tremendously talented disabled people searching for work and they could be our country’s future leaders or entrepreneurs if they are given the chance. That is why we are launching Change 100 to bring the two together. By providing a 100 day summer work placement, alongside mentoring and other support, we hope that both employers and undergraduates will have an experience valuable in itself. And importantly it would be the start of a different world of work in the future.

“We know many disabled people do wish to work. We know also that customers of large and small employers welcome diverse workforces, whether in their local bank branch or their corner shop.

“We know that companies wish to employ talented people. It’s time for us to bring them together and create a world of work that looks like our street, our village or our town, with no one left out. We hope companies will take up the help we are offering with Change 100.

“We know that many employers are anxious about employing disabled people and uncertain how to make it work. The fact is disabled people are far less likely to be in work than non-disabled people and we know that many of them would like to be. We know that only 50% of working age disabled people are in employment. This compares to 80% of non-disabled people. This means there are two million disabled people who could be in work.

“This is why we are launching Change 100 to provide life-changing opportunities to at least 100 disabled undergraduates to experience the world of work.”

Recent research by Leonard Cheshire Disability has revealed that 77% of disabled people have not received any help finding work. In an experiment using similar CVs of disabled and non-disabled candidates, the charity found that a non-disabled candidate was TWICE as likely to be invited for interview as one where a disability was declared.

The charity has been supporting disabled people into work for many years and has close knowledge of the many issues they face. Specialist training, expert accessibility advice and a wide range of schemes, including shadowing and work mentoring, are on offer from the charity to support companies and disabled people at work.

Clare Pelham added: “We have spoken to people who are desperate to work but face rejection after rejection. This can become really soul-destroying and eventually people think they are simply unemployable. If companies take up this challenge, we can end this unacceptable situation now.”

Change100 is a new internship programme run by Leonard Cheshire Disability and Vanilla, the social impact specialists.  Businesses are being invited to support the programme and make a pledge to create opportunities for disabled students in their workforce. For more information visit

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