28 September 2016

ESHT support for Project SEARCH enters its third year

Project SEARCH a supported internship programme, is building on the success of the previous two years work by providing 11 young people with a learning disability or difficulty, the opportunity to access a range of internships with the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.

Project SEARCH interns

Project SEARCH interns

In the upcoming year, the young people who are aged between 17 and 24, will work in non-clinical areas of the hospital. The programme has nearly 40 different departments offering placements to interns, with many new departments confirmed for this year. Exciting placements range from working in Estates, Pathology, housekeeping on various wards, Laundry, Post, and in clerical positions in areas such as Occupational Therapy and Radiology.

Project SEARCH is a supported internship programme run collaboratively between host employer East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Sussex Downs College and East Sussex County Council. It has a clear goal to give young people with learning disabilities/difficulties the skills to gain competitive paid employment rather than the typical volunteering roles often associated with adults with learning difficulties or disabilities. Last year ten interns graduated from Project SEARCH in East Sussex with eight graduates having found sustainable employment to date.

Dr Adrian Bull, ESHT Chief Executive said: “I am proud that the Trust continues to be the host employer for this project. The interns have helped to change the way people think and have shown what people with a learning difficulty can do in the workplace. Project SEARCH is an inspiring success story.”

Edel Cousins, ESHT Assistant Director of HR said: “Project SEARCH raises expectations of employability of people with a learning disability or difficulty and the general public will see people with a learning disability hard at work as part of everyday life. Our track record shows over the past two years many of the interns achieve full time paid employment.”

Penny Morgan, Programme Co-ordinator said: “Project SEARCH has proven its success by the lives that it has changed. Our young people have shown great strength and resilience in overcoming their barriers, and leave the programme as extremely employable individuals. It wouldn’t be possible without all the hard work that they put in, or without the dedication that everyone within the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust puts in, from the ground level mentors to the Chief Executive. All these young people need is to be given an opportunity by employers to prove they can make a valuable contribution in the work place. We are hoping to find local employers who are recruiting and who would consider following the lead of the Trust.”

The 11 interns, who are currently following an induction to prepare them for their year ahead working within the trust, will each complete three 10-week rotations in different departments over the academic year to gain a range of skills and help them to decide the type of work they’d like to pursue.