Phil running for inclusive employment

A city worker from Suffolk is running this Sunday’s London Marathon for leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

Phil wearing his Leonard Cheshire running vest

Phil Willis, 27, from Southwold, gained confidence to forge a successful career after landing a place on the charity’s internship programme, Change 100.

Originally from Plymouth, Phil has had a stammer all his life and feels his employment journey was boosted by a paid summer placement with brewers SABMiller:

“I was studying law at Durham University in 2016 when I heard about the scheme.  Being introduced to such an interesting, stimulating environment built up my confidence in the working world and I haven’t looked back.”

He now feels he ‘owns’ his stammer and views it as a positive:

“It’s something I’ve had since childhood, and I’ve undergone various types of speech therapy, but the internship was the most helpful thing for me.”

Since the experience, Phil has worked at the Treasury in London and is now settled as a Senior Associate for a finance company.

Stammering is a neurological condition that makes it physically hard to speak.  It's estimated that it affects around 1 in 100 adults, with men being around 3 to 4 times more likely to stammer than women.

Phil is looking forward to Sunday’s challenge:

“I did a 10k, then a half marathon but this is the first full 26 miles I’ve ever done.”  The strength derived from flourishing in the workplace will spur him on to raise cash for a charity that had seen nearly 1000 candidates gain valuable experience with top companies through Change 100 since 2014."

He said:

“It’s something I’ve learnt to overcome and be comfortable with. There are times when it’s difficult and times when I’m a fluent speaker.  It’s not something you cure as such.  I’d like to be able to raise awareness of the fact that disabilities of any kind are not a barrier to getting on and succeeding in life.” 

Marcus Missen, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Leonard Cheshire added:

“It’s incredibly exciting to have runners attending the first full-participation London Marathon since 2019 and we’re absolutely thrilled to have 48 taking part in this flagship event. Our supporters are crucial in helping us continue our work around the world and we are so grateful and proud of all the runners in Team Leonard Cheshire.”
People can support Phil in his marathon efforts by visiting his donation page.

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Notes to editor

Change 100

Change 100 is Leonard Cheshire’s flagship programme of paid summer work placements, professional development, and mentoring for students with a disability or long-term health condition.

It aims to remove barriers experienced by disabled people in the workplace, to allow them to achieve their potential.  Leonard Cheshire partners with leading employers in the UK who believe disability isn’t a barrier to a brilliant career.

Applications are now open, you have until 6 January 2022 to apply.