MY Project Search
Our involvement in Project SEARCH, as a Trust, started in 2016 when we began planning to launch the programme on our Pinderfields Hospital site in Wakefield, which we officially introduced in September 2017.
In the first two years of our Project Search programme at Pinderfields, fifteen Interns have so far graduated from the programme and so far, as a Trust we have employed nine of the the students, supporting our pledge, as part of the national NHS scheme, to employ more people with learning disabilities.
In September 2019 we were delighted to welcome our third cohort of eleven Interns to the Project Search programme on our Pinderfields site and, working with our project partners, we have already begun the recruitment process for our 2020/21 cohort.
As a result of the success of the Pinderfields’ programme and the positive publicity it generated, we were approached by Kirklees Council and Kirklees College earlier this year (in 2019) about the prospect of running a second Project SEARCH, this time at Dewsbury and District Hospital which we swiftly established.
We were delighted to welcome our first cohort of seven student interns to our Dewsbury site on 4 September 2019. On the day of their arrival, our interns were greeted by the leader of Kirklees Council - Cllr Shabir Pandor and our Chairman Keith Ramsay.
Currently, we are the only NHS Trust outside of the London area to host two Project SEARCH programmes.
Photo: Cohort 3 (2019-20)
Our Interns are matched to their placements in terms of skills, abilities and interests, and this differs for each student. All of our Interns are supported by their local mentors who work alongside them in each department, helping them to learn the skills required in each placement, until they can perform the tasks independently.
Our Interns also receive support from their on-site Project SEARCH job coach and tutor, who support them in placement and help them to develop an employability plan, CV and write letters to employers. They also have classroom based learning on topics such as employability skills, social skills and health and safety in the hospital.
How does Project Search work?
Project SEARCH operates over an academic year. Interns begin on the Project in September, and continue on the programme until the following July.
When interns first begin on the Project they complete an induction for the first two weeks to three weeks, where they do all the mandatory training required by the hospital, and learn how to work professionally, to our Trust standards, and how to work safely.
Each term they undertake a new “rotation” or work placement. Each rotation begins with 1:1 support from a member of the Project SEARCH team, but ultimately the intern will be working on the job independently. There will be a mentor in their placement, who interns can go to with any questions or concerns. We aim for our mentors to be the best people at the jobs, so that the interns have excellent role models. During the placement, interns have continual feedback on their performance, to help them develop and work towards individual goals. Each placement builds on the skills developed in the previous role, to help our interns move towards paid employment.
Our job coaches and tutor, who specialise in supporting people with learning disabilities in employment, will coach interns into their placements, teaching them the skills they will need.
Alongside their rotations, interns have two sessions in our Base Room each day where they complete an employability skills curriculum. This includes things such as:
• employer’s expectations
• health and safety
• tackling problems at work
• completing CVs
• interview practice
As the year continues, sessions in the base room shift focus towards job searching. Interns can find a job at any stage during their year on Project SEARCH.
Whenever an intern finds paid work, they are supported to learn the role, with any problems, and to complete training, by a member of our partner, hft’s, supported employment team. Hft continues to work with employed graduates on a follow-on basis for as long as they are in work.
Jobs are not guaranteed on Project SEARCH. All interns who find paid employment have done so through showing a good work ethic, determination and hard work.
Photo; Cohort 2 (2018-19)
Photo: Cohort 1 (2017–18)