An undergraduate from Newcastle has completed an internship designed to help disabled students, as National Inclusion Week gets underway (25 September – 1 October).
Ivo Vasilev, 31, undertook a three-month placement at Bellway’s head office in Newcastle as part of the Change 100 scheme.
Ivo, who is studying communications and advertising at Northumbria University, has Crohn’s disease – a lifelong condition whereby parts of the digestive system become inflamed.
He spent 12 weeks with Bellway before returning to complete his third year of his degree course. He had applied for the Change 100 scheme, run by the Leonard Cheshire charity in association with progressive employers. Ivo said:
“I had to go through an assessment and then an interview with Leonard Cheshire to see if I was suitable and what my skills and interests are. I was delighted to learn in March 2023 that I had been offered an internship with Bellway.
“Initially, I was designated an administrative role but Bellway got in touch with me and asked if I would prefer to be with the communications and marketing team there as it matched my degree course. That was a great boost for me and just shows how caring and progressive they are and I jumped at the chance.
“I have loved every minute of my time at Bellway and have made new friends. Everyone here is patient and happy to talk to me and explain how processes work and the best way to tackle assignments. It makes me feel like a valued member of the team.”
Ivo had seen the Change 100 scheme advertised on a university website. His internship offered him real-life experience, coupled with the flexibility he needed.
“The caring attitude and flexibility shown to me by Bellway has been a revelation. I never imagined employers could be so accommodating and compassionate when it came to disabled workers.
“My condition means that I always have to be near to a toilet and that can be limiting. It also means that some days I wake up feeling a bit tired and might need an extra hour in bed to recover. At Bellway, they allow me the flexibility to start later and finish later and that helps reduce the anxiety I feel about how my disability might impact on my work hours.”
The internship gave an insight into the varied nature of communications and marketing. Ivo said:
“There was no typical day for me. One day I can be working with the communications specialists and the next I can be with the marketing experts helping out on a project. They asked me to carry out research into Tik Tok to investigate the marketing opportunities which the online video site presents for the company.
“One thing I wanted to come away with from my time on this internship was a clearer view of whether I see my future in marketing or communications. At the moment, I am not sure which specific direction I want to go in in my career after I graduate but one thing is for sure, I want to work for Bellway.”
Paul Lawler, Bellway Group Head of Communications, said:
“From the very first time that we spoke to Ivo we knew that he would be a perfect fit with our communications and marketing team and we were very glad he accepted our offer.
“Even during the short time that he has been with us he has blended in brilliantly and his enthusiasm and willingness to learn have been very refreshing. Ivo’s dedication and refusal to let his disability dictate what he can and can’t do in his life is a true inspiration to all of us here. He has quickly become a very popular member of the team.”
Bellway is committed to its Better with Bellway strategy – a company-wide pledge to responsible and sustainable practices. One of the key aims of the strategy is to become an Employer of Choice. Paul said: “Bellway is a safe, diverse and inclusive organisation where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and feels they have a voice and are able to pursue and achieve their professional goals.
“The opportunities that Ivo, and other students and graduates with disabilities, are given through the Change 100 internship programme are very important not only to the interns themselves but also to companies like Bellway which are striving to improve inclusivity across their organisation.”
For more information and support regarding Crohn’s Disease, visit the Crohn's and Colitis UK website.
For more information about Leonard Cheshire, including their Change 100 internship programme, visit their website here.