Lead Scotland is a charity that empowers disabled people and carers and those who experience exclusion to improve their lives through learning. They approached Inclusion Scotland and SCVO to set up an opportunity for a disabled person under the Disability Equality Internship Programme, and Chris Purnell was recruited as Information Service Communications Intern. Chris’ role supported the work of Rebecca Scarlett, Senior Policy & Information Officer. We caught up with both of them to hear how things went.
What was the internship about? What was the day to day work like?
Chris- “I was creating guidance materials and case studies, and making information accessible. I went out and facilitated some information sessions about LEAD and what it does. It was nice as I was able to use my photography skills too, as my first degree is a BA in photography.”
Rebecca- “Chris would show a lot of initiative in planning how the work was carried out. He would go away and research stuff, and he really enjoyed this as it gave him some autonomy. It gave him more confidence in using his initiative and not asking for too much support.”
Chris- “I was used to working in roles where people were telling me what to do, it was great being trusted to get on with things. When I saw the internship advertised I thought I could do it, but I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of self development. It really opened up a lot for me, my sense of worth and what I can aim for.”
What have you gained from the experience?
Chris – “Other than confidence and skills development, I also now have real concrete examples of what I can offer with a portfolio of work from my time at LEAD. So that’s more up to date examples to take to a job interview, less transferable experience and more actual experience. This really helped when I had my recent interview for the GCIL Equality Academy, I felt more confident in describing what I was capable of. I start my new job in the NHS soon.
I didn’t need any adjustments, but Rebecca was very supportive and has gone above and beyond in being a great manager. She coached me through the interview process for my new job, and I couldn’t have done it without her.
Overall, the increase in confidence has made me want to get more involved in making society more inclusive.”
Rebecca – “Going through the process of hosting the intern really made me think about how recruitment practices might feel inaccessible to disabled people. Things like the wording on the role profile can put disabled people off. I have experience in employability so it was nice to give back as an employer, and help Chris make the most of his experience. Chris is going to continue to volunteer for LEAD doing information work.”
Advice for future interns and employers?
Rebecca – “It is really important to find the right fit. It was helpful for us to have a graduate to do this work. Think about what skills are needed to do the role as you would with any other job. When developing the role, it needs to be well structured and thought out. Think of the outputs and make sure there are tangible aims from the work that will benefit your organisation. Supervision is essential – don’t take on someone unless you have the time to properly supervise and manage them. For interns I’d say to make the most of it, and remember you are an equal, you have value to contribute and you earned this.”
Did anything unexpected come out of the internship?
It has been a joy having Chris take part in the programme and we wish him well for the future. This won’t be the last we see of him, as he will be bringing his Comedy for Life sessions to the interns on the current programme and supporting our work in making society more inclusive for disabled people.
Inclusion Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government’s Equality Unit to deliver the National Disability Internship Programme “We Can Work”. 30 internships will be created for disabled people per year as per the Scottish Government’s A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Delivery Plan. You can find out more about the plan by clicking here.