Project SEARCH

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Project SEARCH

The Trust has partnered with Wakefield Council, HFT Supported Employment Agency, Wakefield College, Kirklees Council and Kirklees College to give young adults with learning difficulties the chance to gain valuable work experience, in a programme called Project SEARCH.

Project SEARCH in Wakefield and Kirklees is a unique pre-employment program based at Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospitals, which helps young people with learning disabilities gain the skills they need to get meaningful paid jobs.

The programme, which was launched in September 2017, is a one year supported training and employment opportunity for adults aged 17-25 with a learning disability, which takes place at our Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospital sites.

Project SEARCH provides real life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills, as well as formulating a CV, to help young people make successful transitions from school to adult life. The goal for each student is competitive employment somewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired at our hospital. 

Our trainees are matched to their placements in terms of skills, abilities and interests, and this differs for each student. All of our trainees are supported by their 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 trainees also receive support from their on-site job coach and tutor, who support them in placement and help them to develop an employability plan, CV and write letters to employers. Our trainees 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, 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

Job Searching 

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 continue to work with employed graduates on a follow-on basis for as long as they are in work.

Please note: 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.

How to apply

To participate in the programme, applicants must:

  • be aged between 16-24 and have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in place
  • be able to commit to a 5 day a week programme.

To apply or find out more, please contact Suzanne Kidd: or Lauren Foster:  

Hear from DFN Project Search interns

We're shining a light on our fantastic current and former DFN Project Search Wakefield interns here at Mid Yorkshire. Hear from the interns below...



Rhys has always been interested in IT and had applied for vacancies at various organisations but was unfortunately unsuccessful due to his lack of experience.

Rhys was introduced to Project SEARCH by his college tutors and was put forward for a initial trial, where he was able to secure a placement in IT.

Immediately, Rhys managed to build relationships with his supportive team and was excelling in his role, demonstrating exceptional and showcasing his talent within the first weeks of his placement.

In addition to this, Rhys was selected by his Project SEARCH tutor to participate in the reciprocal mentoring programme, which pairs senior leaders at the Trust with less experienced counterparts, for both parties to learn skills, knowledge and experiences from one another.

Rhys was paired with the Director of Operations for Infrastructure, who supported Rhys to develop his confidence and approach to getting work. This was life changing for Rhys – in his exact words "meeting Roy changed my life." He also has managed to form friendships and allies in the workplace that makes him comfortable and allow him to bring his authentic self to work daily.

He secured a 12-month fixed-term contract after completing his first rotation and is now being encouraged by his managers to make an application for permanent employment the Trust.

He has now finished his sessions with his mentor, and his newfound confidence is now allowing Rhys to talk to new interns and support the Project SEARCH team with promotional events and induction.

The impact the paid employment, in a supportive environment knowing every day is providing experience is life-changing for him. Through daily interactions, Rhys has also made friends with colleagues and peers throughout the Trust. Rhys feels that he now belongs and loves working for MYTT.



Lewis completed his first rotation with the Specimen Portering Team and then moved onto a rotation with the Patient Porter Team. Lewis received amazing feedback in this rotation and excelled working with his colleagues and helping to transport patients from their ward to the radiology department.

The management team requested for Lewis to stay with the team for his third rotation so he could further develop his skills. After applying for a position with the team, Lewis was successful in gaining a full-time paid role as a Patient Porter with the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust.

Lewis has now gone from strength to strength and is a valued member of his team.

Lewis' mum also benefitted from this progression, as she was also able to re-enter employment for the first time in several years now Lewis was in full time work.



Britney was an intern at Pinderfields Hospital. She started her placement working as a Kitchen Assistant in Abacus Nursery before moving onto work in the linen room where she where she processed deliveries and cleaned different areas across the main hospital site.

Britney is now in a placement as a Facilities Porter where she has been a great asset to the team and received amazing feedback from her mentor.

Britney is becoming increasingly independent and blooming in her role. 



Jamie interned at Pinderfields Hospital. Initially, Jamie found it difficult to settle into his new placement but after moving to work with the Domestics Team he found a role that he enjoys and received amazing feedback from senior managers in the hospital.