Interns graduate from Mid Yorkshire thanks to the successful learning disabilities employment scheme | News

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Interns graduate from Mid Yorkshire thanks to the successful learning disabilities employment scheme

Project SEARCH graduation attendees gathering for a photo
Captured above (left to right):  Mayor Darren Byford, Lauren Foster, DFN Project SEARCH Supported Internship Lecturer, Len Richards, Chief Executive, Ewan McGinnies, DFN Project SEARCH graduate, Jimmy Stainsby, DFN Project SEARCH graduate, John Leach, DFN Project SEARCH graduate, Mel Papp, DFN Project SEARCH Employability Coach, Angie Hirst, DFN Project SEARCH Employability Coach, Courtney Purdy, DFN Project SEARCH graduate, Debbie Moss, Head of Inclusion, Helen Johnson, Follow-On Job Coach, Brain Chiyesu, Assistant Director of Equality Diversity & Inclusion.

The unique pre-employment programme, DFN Project SEARCH, waved goodbye to six interns at a graduation event on Friday 5 July.

DFN Project SEARCH is a one-year transition to work programme for young adults aged 18 - 25, who have a learning disability or autism spectrum condition, or both. The programme helps young people who are known to local authorities gain the skills they need to secure paid employment. 

After a year-long internship, the 2023/24 cohort of students were presented with a certificate of completion, for the work they undertook as part of the employment scheme. This involved adapting to new challenges, learning various professions, and gaining the essential people skills needed for the working world. 

The event was attended by colleagues from across the Trust, who helped support and train the interns to progress with their chosen career paths. Proud parents of the graduates were also in attendance to celebrate the achievement of these young people. 

Commenting at the event, one parent stated the impact DFN Project SEARCH has had on their family: 

Project Search has changed our lives. We, as a family, did not know where to turn to next about education or employment for our child. Now they have only secured a job but have a career. I would recommend the course to anyone lucky enough to get the opportunity.

Out of six graduates, four have secured permanent employment since completing the internship. For two graduates, this includes departments within the Trust, such as Housekeeping and Pathology. 

Courtney Purdy, Project SEARCH graduate, said:  

Not many jobs understand people with disabilities, and their needs. The programme is a great experience for people who have disabilities to learn new skills. It has helped me develop and become more independent. I’ve learnt how to work in a hospital environment, and I’ve now been offered a job as a Ward Housekeeper.

Staying close to their learnings, other graduates from this cohort have also found employment within the community at other local health and care organisations. 

Len Richards, Chief Executive at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, said:

Congratulations to all our interns on this outstanding achievement, especially to those who have successfully secured permanent employment. This outcome isn’t guaranteed with the project, but it is a testament to the Project SEARCH team, the mentors from across the Trust, and all the young people involved. The commitment the interns have shown to this internship demonstrates excellent work ethics, and all the young people should be very proud of the contributions they have made to their local NHS.

Laura Lavendar, Director of Inclusion at the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group,said:

We have worked closely with the Mid Yorkshire NHS Teaching Trust to deliver Project SEARCH for years and the success of the programme speaks volumes. It has provided those with learning disabilities with lifechanging opportunities, ensuring that they can seamlessly transition into the world of work and in many cases, kickstart their careers in sectors which they love. It’s incredibly rewarding to see how our learners have developed throughout their internship and as they take their next steps, with many of them progressing onto full-time roles at the Trust or other organisations.

To find out more about Project SEARCH visit:

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