My Churchill Fellowship journey began by enquiring about the various stages of the application process. I was trying to gauge how accommodating the Trust would be to my disability and how inclusive and accessible their practices were. As a blind applicant I had reservations about the application process, whether or not to identify as well as how I would travel independently and safely if I were awarded a Fellowship. My concerns were quickly allayed by all levels of staff within the Trust who stressed that my disability would in no way prohibit my application from being considered or prevent them from awarding me the Fellowship. Moreover the Trust assured me that the safety of all Fellows, irrespective of disability, is their priority and if this meant that I would require someone to accompany me for part or all of my Fellowship journey then they would be willing to accommodate that. The staff at the Trust recognised my trepidation and connected me with Fellows who also happened to identify as having a disability.
At all stages of the journey, from the initial enquiry to the rewarding of the medallion, the team at the Trust have been accommodating, flexible and always encouraging. There was nothing ever too difficult for the Trust to overcome and this included my request to have my mother accompany me on my Fellowship journey.
My Churchill experience, and my learnings, have been absolutely lifechanging. My experience has provided me with confidence and a better insight into my capabilities and how I can overcome my own prejudices on what I can and can’t achieve. If my experience is anything to go by, I strongly encourage anyone, with or without a disability, to throw their hat in the ring and apply. Don’t let your disability stop you!
Ebru Sumaktas CF 2017