Bethany Kenny studied Social Policy and Government at LSE and joined the Department of Health’s Mental Health and Strategy Team as part of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Change100. Change100 brings together the UK’s top employers and talented disabled students and graduates to offer three months of paid work experience – applications are open until 25 January.
During her placement Bethany worked on two policy initiatives, which enabled her to get first-hand experience on how Government departments interact with other organisations, and how this feeds in to the policy making process. Bethany is now a Team Manager in Mental Health Data and Intelligence at NHS England.
Did you enjoy your placement? What have been the highlights of being involved in Change100?
My highlight of being involved with Change100 is meeting and getting to know others in the programme. Getting an insight into what others are doing has been really interesting, as it has allowed me to understand the multiple roles within different companies. The Change100 interns have all been so open and supportive and it has been nice to talk openly about any challenges with people who are in a similar situation.
What do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself?
I have learned to be confident in my abilities while still being aware that there is always room to grow and learn. The fact that Change100 has sessions during everyone’s internships meant there was time for reflection on how far everyone had come during the process, and for everyone to reflect on the skills they had nurtured.
If disclosing your disability to your manager, any tips on how to do it?
When disclosing your disability to your manager, I’d say approach it in a positive light. It may mean you can’t do certain things, or you need considerations in certain areas, but it doesn’t mean you’re not as good as everyone else.
As I have an invisible disability, I could potentially not disclose it to my boss, yet for me to work to the best of my abilities it is important to explain my needs. They are not all negative and if an employer were, they wouldn’t be the right employer for me.
My key tip is to approach the subject confidently as you are the best person to explain your own needs and you should not see them as a negative. Explain what you need in place and how you work around your disability; this will leave them feeling confident that you know how to manage your disability at work and how they can give the appropriate adjustments.