Eleven young people with learning difficulties or disabilities have recently graduated from Project SEARCH, a supported internship programme designed to give the young people skills to gain competitive paid employment.
The interns were presented with certificates at a graduation ceremony by ex-Eastbourne MP, Caroline Ansell.
Parents and staff from this joint partnership between the host employer, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Sussex Downs College and East Sussex County Council were present at the graduation.
David Clayton-Smith Chairman ESHT said: “I would like to congratulate all the interns on their graduation. It is a tremendous achievement. Their hard work around the hospital has contributed to patient care and has been recognised by many members of staff. They have helped to change the way people think and have shown what people with a learning difficulties can do in the workplace. I am proud that the Trust is the host employer for this project – long may that continue. I would also like to thank colleagues who have help to mentor these young people. Project SEARCH is a scheme that I would encourage other employers to get involved with – it is an inspiring success story.”
Caroline Ansell said, “I continue to be inspired by this amazing group of young people. They have done so well and grown in confidence as they have picked up new skills to equip them for the workplace. They should be proud of the role they have played in a team at the hospital and their parents must be very proud of them too. I hope local employers will see the potential in these young people and go on to employ them.”
Stacey Beard, Project SEARCH co-ordinator, added: “A special thank you to everyone who attended to celebrate Project SEARCH’s third Graduation of interns. It was a fantastic night full of tears of joy and celebration. The video of the interns working went down a treat, highlighting memories of the time on the project. The keynote speeches from our special guests were warmly welcomed. Interns were awarded certificates for various employment skills that they have gained while on the project. We also recognised four key NHS staff members who have effortlessly taken interns under their wing over the past nine months. Two of our interns are in full time employment already at the Trust and the other nine are continuing to apply for jobs and attend interviews. We wish them all a successful future.”
Whilst working in the hospital the students worked in a range of non-clinical areas throughout the hospital including placements in Pathology and Main Stores, Post room and Maintenance, Housekeeping, Laundry, Decontamination and in administrative functions in Outpatient Reception, Health Records and Patient Experience.