10 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 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.
Caroline Ansell MP said, “I was inspired by this group of young people when I met them earlier in the year. 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.”
Dr Adrian Bull, ESHT Chief Executive said, "I am proud that the Trust has been the host employer for this project. I would like to congratulate all the interns on their graduation. 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 would also like to thank colleagues who have help to mentor these young people. Project Search is an inspiring success story."
Penny Mackay, Faculty Director of Progression Studies at Sussex Downs College said, “I'm very proud of our students, I know that they have all enjoyed this experience and they should be extremely happy with what they've achieved. Thank you to all those involved in Project SEARCH who have given these inspiring young people the extra support and experience to help them gain employment. Project SEARCH helps to level the playing field for these students.”
Meirion Roberts, father of one of the interns on Project SEARCH said, "Sam has gained in confidence and independence and is looking forward to starting his working life. He has made good friends and has thoroughly enjoyed and developed in all of his work placements."
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 and Buffer, Decontamination and in administrative functions Learning and Development, Health Records and Patient Experience.