Eight young adults with learning disabilities and autism from Barnstaple have celebrated graduating from the Project SEARCH programme at NDHT.
Project SEARCH is an innovative one-year internship programme which helps 18 to 24-year-old students with a learning disability or autism into employment. In North Devon, it’s a partnership between NDHT, Sodexo, Petroc and Pluss.
The students complete three 10-week placements at NDDH and receive employability training. This gives them work experience, encourages independence and helps them to build confidence and develop life skills.
Interns and staff from this year’s programme celebrated at an online graduation ceremony, after eight students successfully completed the programme, gaining 800 hours of skills acquisition across the academic year.
Currently interns are completing job trials to hopefully secure employment, and some have been referred to the Work and Health programme, a Government scheme that helps people find work.
Gail Richards, training manager and apprentice lead, said: “This year has definitely been a difficult one with COVID-19, but the students continued to work from home along with other colleagues at North Devon District Hospital and I hope they have learnt new skills through our virtual communications.
“We also had to hold our graduation virtually, which was absolutely brilliant and couldn’t have been better given the circumstances, and no technical glitches! It was great that we found a way to celebrate together.”