- Created on Tuesday, 25 September 2012 10:07
Young people with learning disabilities celebrate the start of their journey into working life.
A group of young people with learning disabilities have just started internships in Torbay Hospital under the banner of Project SEARCH.
A Government initiative, Project SEARCH has had success all over the world and is being delivered in Torbay by South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, South Devon College, and the social enterprise Pluss which provides specialist employment support services across Devon and Cornwall for people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health issues.
The programme lasts nine months, during which time 11 students will work in three placement rotations in many different areas within the Trust including catering, postal service, portering, medical records, haematology clinical preparation and administrative support in human resources.
The end aim is to help the students find paid employment within the Hospital or elsewhere in the community. The students’ time in the workplace is supported by a job coach from Pluss, who will also support the interns in personal development planning. After the first few days of placement, students will chose their own mentor from within the Hospital team they are working with.
They will carry out tasks relevant to their placement as would any other member of staff. They will then return to the classroom at the end of each day to assess how their day has gone as well as learning other communication, problem-solving and job-specific skills. The teaching will be provided by dedicated staff from South Devon College.
Much has been written about the legacy of the Paralympic Games and their potential to raise the aspirations of future generations of disabled people, their families and communities. Project Search aims to leave a similar legacy where disability does not have to be impairment to ambition.
Principal of South Devon College, Stephen Criddle said
“I am delighted that we are working in partnership with Torbay Hospital and Pluss on this brilliant initiative which provides wonderful internships opportunities based around the Hospital. This initiative follows the exciting announcement of government approval for our partnership 14-18 Devon Studio School due to commence in September 2013 under the leadership of Kate Davis. This will be a very exciting year for young people in this area.”
Paul Love, Pluss Chief Operating and Financial Officer said
“Pluss has always held the view that those furthest from the labour market prove themselves time and time again to be excellent employees when given the right support. We have seen excellent results with Project SEARCH in Plymouth and hope to see even more young people move into work in Torbay as a result of this great initiative.”
Torbay Hospital Chief Executive, Paula Vasco-Knight, who was recently appointed National Lead for Equality for the NHS Commissioning Board, said:
“Sometimes in your career, you do something that you are really proud of. I feel hugely privileged to be part of this fantastic partnership, which is just the first step in helping to get these students into paid employment. My commitment to each and every one of them is to provide help and support along the way and there are lots more people in the Trust who are willing to do the same.
“I absolutely believe we should be doing this in all NHS organisations. The NHS needs difference; difference makes us a better organisation.”