Story 4

Work experience

I had a wonderful day with Natasha, who did work experience with me at Channel 4 News through Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change100 programme. I'm certain I learnt a lot more from her than she did from me!

Cathy Newman

Despite having a condition which limits her mobility — Ehlers-Danlos syndrome — Natasha threw herself into everything. Nothing was off limits. She prepared the day’s news with me, and attended all my meetings, including a trip to the House of Commons to meet with a senior MP. Natasha was indispensable at helping me research my stories, and gave brilliant advice on script lines. I know her condition gives her a lot of pain, but she didn’t show it for a moment. I was amazed at how glass half-full she was about everything, how tirelessly optimistic, and how she refused to let her disability limit her life one iota. Although she used a crutch, I very soon forgot all about her disability. We talked about Natasha’s condition a lot, which opened my eyes to the complexities of disabilities like hers — but also how so many disabled people are absolutely determined not to let huge physical challenges define them or limit their lives.

Channel 4 News has run a series of films entitled ‘No Go Britain’, highlighting the barriers disabled people face in their daily lives, from access to railway stations and football grounds to the absence of adapted toilets in public places. The films have had a huge response from across the country. They have helped put pressure on public services and private companies alike to change their attitudes to disabled people. But there is so much more to do. It’s dispiriting how unequal life remains for those with disabilities. So many big corporations pay lip service to equality, while failing to make the relatively small investments needed to transform lives. We will keep highlighting the concerns of disabled people until the playing field is levelled, both metaphorically and literally!

As a teenager I did work experience at a Leonard Cheshire care home, and it made a deep impression on me. I think I appreciated for the first time how many challenges disabled people have to overcome, day in, day out, and the incredible support Leonard Cheshire provides. I found the dedication and care of the staff truly inspiring.

I passionately hope that in times to come disabled people will be given an equal chance. Discrimination is still, sadly, a daily fact of life for those with disabilities. We all have a duty to ensure that in the future it isn’t.

We will keep highlighting the concerns of disabled people until the playing field is levelled, both metaphorically and literally!