Matilda Ibini, shares her story about work experience at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Through the City Bridge Trust program, Matilda was able to get tailored work experience in teams across the charity, which was more flexible, accessible and accommodating than your typical work experience. The program is offered to young disabled Londoners looking for work and opportunities for career progression.
Matilda is now working part time for Trailblazers, as a Campaigns Assistant and tells us about her time as an intern:
What the City Bridge Trust recognises is that it is difficult for anyone trying to find employment, work experience or internships but this is especially difficult when you have a disability. Transport, accessible buildings, accessible toilets, support workers etc can be difficult to organise and can leave you feeling frustrated (trust me – I know) and worried as to how you can financially sustain yourself when you can barely get a foot in the door.
So as soon as I graduated from university (and said au revoir to student loan), I started volunteering two days a week at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. I took up the offer because I realised I had to give myself every chance possible to get some work experience and find out that I could physically cope with the demand of holding down a job. I was nervous about volunteering as I hadn’t done it for a long while but felt now that I had the time, it would be a good chance to learn skills that would make me employable.
I think it’s important to try and gain work experience even if it’s not related to what you want for a career. Sometimes doing something totally unrelated helps open up your options and may lead you on a new path. (I know an office job isn’t for everyone but you have to start somewhere) It’s about getting used to being in a working environment, communicating with people, working on your own initiative and sometimes doing tasks that push you out of your comfort zone.A number of tasks I did included: campaign research, drafting emails and letters, presenting at the quarterly staff meeting, phoning up other trailblazers, attending APPG’s in parliament and writing blogs.
It really is fulfilling volunteering for a charity that aims to better the lives of disabled people. Doing so helped build my confidence in communicating and I got the opportunity to meet interesting people from other organisations who I could approach for possible opportunities.
Staff are friendly and make you feel very welcome in the office. I like to think I developed a better understanding of what I am capable of, especially when you find yourself in such a supportive environment. I was having such a positive experience I ended up volunteering for three months!
Volunteering and beyond
I understand the logistical difficulties in trying to find work experience or employment but what’s so great about Trailblazers and the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign is they have thought about that too and have done their best to be flexible; one of which is by reimbursing travel and lunch expenses.
I would advise coming to do work experience in an environment that does their up most to accommodate your needs. Good transport links – check. Accessible offices – check. Friendly environment – check.
So what are you waiting for?
To find out more about Trailblazers contact us here.
To find out more about the City Bridge Trust click here.