A multi-award winning project that supports young adults with Learning Disabilities to find and keep paid employment is looking to recruit further people to benefit from its services starting in September.
Project SEARCH is a partnership that provides real work experience based in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, where interns learn the skills that all employers need together with specific skills for individual jobs.
The scheme supports young adults, between 18 and 24, living in Plymouth with Learning Disabilities by providing a Level 1 academic course running alongside three internships within Derriford Hospital.
In its first three years, over 60% of the interns have gone on to achieve competitive paid employment. Project SEARCH graduate interns acknowledge that the project has boosted their work skills, personal confidence and given them greater independence.
Graduate Intern, Mathew Eady, who gained paid employment with SERCO as a refuse porter within the hospital said “My job means a lot to me as I am helping to keep the hospital clean and that is very important. I am earning my own wage, before I was on benefits and that makes me proud.”
Matthew talks about the longer term benefits that employment has to offer “I would like to get my own flat and I am more likely to get a mortgage now I have a paid job. Project SEARCH is definitely worth doing but it’s not always easy and there is a lot of work to do. I would say to anyone thinking of coming on Project SEARCH, do it as you are more likely to get a paid job.”
Serco Contract Manager, Nick Pugh said “We are proud to be part of Project SEARCH and have employed seven graduate interns and they are amongst our best employees, proving that people with learning disabilities make excellent workers when given the right support. We are looking forward to working with the new Project SEARCH cohort starting in September.”
It’s not only the Interns that gain from this innovative scheme as employers acquire trained staff who are fully committed to work. Derriford Hospital’s Human Resources Director, Hein Scheffer, says Projects SEARCH touches the lives of young people in a very positive way. He said “Derriford Hospital is proud to be an employer with a diverse workforce that reflects the surrounding population and being a partner in this project has reinforced our view that employers should focus on people’s abilities and not their limitations.
“We continually reappraise our recruitment processes to ensure the trust can consider and employ the right people, irrespective of their background, to continue providing excellent services to our patients. There are now ten Project SEARCH graduates working within the hospital and have all proven to be an asset to their departments with an outstanding commitment to work. Unfortunately we cannot provide employment to all the graduates and would recommend any business to consider employing a Project SEARCH intern.”
Project SEARCH is a partnership between Derriford Hospital NHS Trust, Pluss, Serco and City College Plymouth who work together to create employment opportunities for young adults living in Plymouth who have Learning Disabilities.
There is a wide range of opportunities to experience work in the hospital for the Interns who work Monday to Friday on an honorary contract.
City College Plymouth provides a Level one Diploma in Progression course using the workplace to provide situations to evidence their learning. Course tutor, Zenta Zuka-Hill is enthusiastic about the course saying “It’s fantastic to have an individualised opportunity that could lead to paid work and a whole new outlook on life. It is hard work but past interns and their families come back to say it was the best thing that has ever happened to them.”
Jackie Humphries, a parent of an intern who has just gained employment in the hospital pharmacy said: “Project SEARCH has been instrumental in him becoming so independent. Friends and family have really noticed a big change in him for the good. The confidence it has given him has benefited him so many ways.”
Project SEARCH are now recruiting for their fifth year and are holding a series of information events to enable potential interns to see if the project is right for them. The events will take place at 10.30 am and 1pm on Tuesday 22nd April at the Project SEARCH Base Room and 6pm on Wednesday 23rd April at City College Goschen Centre.
For further information or to book a place contact Pip Critten on 07771 967804 or 01752 439008