The achievements of young people with learning disabilities were celebrated at an awards ceremony on Friday (30 June) after they completed an on-the-job training scheme at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.
Project SEARCH is an innovative one-year internship programme which gives 16 to 24 year old students with learning disabilities the opportunity to experience the working environment.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw and Chris Tidman, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (Royal Devon) attended the graduation event, after which some students will move on to permanent employment within the Trust.
Chris said: “Inclusion is one of our core values and Project SEARCH provides a fantastic opportunity to support people into work. Listening to the interns’ stories, it is clear that the experience the scheme offers can be profound and life-changing, both for the individuals themselves and the teams they work with.”
Project SEARCH aims to increase employability, while building confidence, developing life skills and encouraging independence.
This year, five students completed the programme at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Exeter and four at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.
The scheme was launched by the Royal Devon’s Northern services, with Petroc College and Pluss in September 2013. Since then, the scheme has supported 85 students, with 64 still in employment.
In addition to Project SEARCH, the Royal Devon has worked with Exeter College since 2016 offering an internship programme. During this time, the Trust have supported 23 students, with 10 students in employment.
Gail Richards, Future Careers and Statutory Training Manager for Royal Devon said, “The interns make a real difference to patients and staff within our hospitals. The scheme also gives our young people with a learning disability or autism excellent real-life experiences, providing a platform for them to showcase their many abilities.”
Last updated: July 06, 2023