Traiblazer Emma Vogelmann has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and is the Policy and Campaigns Intern at Muscular Dystrophy UK. Below, she writes about her experience at MDUK so far:
I wanted to do an internship at Muscular Dystrophy UK to get experience of working for a charity that does great work for disabled rights. I attended a Parliamentary roundtable hosted by MDUK earlier this year and immediately wanted to be involved in their work to start a dialogue with MPs in order to create real change. I wanted to get experience of working on a campaigns team that was working on different projects to broaden my knowledge of issues facing disabled people and to gain new skills.
On my first day I met with Peter Sutton, who is my supervisor, and we talked about all of the things I would be working on during my internship, including representing the charity at meetings in Parliament and reporting on them for Trailblazers. When we came out of our meeting however, the news of the General Election had broken which completely changed our plans but this has not had a negative impact on my experience at all. In fact the election has given me work to do I wouldn’t have otherwise, I wrote a series of blogs going over each party’s Election Manifestos and analysed what each party is saying about plans that will impact people with disabilities. I had written about politics before but only as an individual so I had to learn how to be impartial and analytical at the same time. (Not an easy task so it seems!)
I was given other interesting work to do too such as sending out Freedom of Information requests about accessible housing and writing a report on social care. The social care report in particular has been amazing experience as I have been able to see a large piece of work from beginning to end which can be rare for an Intern to be able to do. I had good background knowledge of social care issues but I had never written a report like this before so I really enjoyed learning how to analyse and write in a completely different way. I have received regular feedback on my work and I have felt supported and encouraged every step of the way during writing the report. Not many other internships give you the opportunity to contribute your own ideas and really collaborate with experienced staff members on a piece of work but I have felt able to do this at MDUK from day one.
The atmosphere in the office at MDUK has been great – everyone has been really friendly and welcoming. The Campaigns team and the Trailblazers team have been really supportive and flexible in letting me work from home some days and come into the office other days. I have been a regular commuter since I went to university and I know all too well that things do not always go smoothly! MDUK have been really understanding if I run into problems with travel and on one particularly bad experience with a taxi, I told Trailblazers about the issue and they put me in touch with Radio 4 who interviewed me for a piece they were doing! This was a great silver lining to a bad experience and Trailblazers have been amazing at publicising the broadcast.
The internship at MDUK has been an invaluable experience to me so far. I have learnt and developed skills and feel I have made a valuable contribution to the organisation too. It has made me more confident in my abilities and helped me decide that I want to carry on working in a disabled rights charity.