Project SEARCH interns secure permanent jobs at NDHT

Two interns on the Project SEARCH programme for young people with learning disabilities have gained full-time employment at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT).

Chris Davies gained a full time position in his NHS dream role as a medical laboratory assistant at North Devon District Hospital. Chris, who has excellent A level grades in the sciences, was over the moon to be offered a placement in microbiology when he

Chris Davies working in the lab

Chris Davies

first joined Project SEARCH. He did so well in this placement his was invited to apply for the position.

Annette West, laboratory manager and lead biomedical scientist, microbiology,  said: “Chris is proof that the Project SEARCH scheme enables young interns to gain confidence and experience during work placement to secure a full time position. I am pleased to have Chris, a valued and dependable member of the microbiology team.”

The second intern to get a job is Emily Mock, whose journey into employment has been a long one, having been thwarted at the onset of lockdown from employment in a department store, after being placed there in her previous supported employment course through Petroc. Thanks to her hard work and excellent guidance of the Sodexo team, she has achieved her dream of employment, cleaning the path lab.

Emily Mock outside NDDH

Emily said: “All my hard work has paid off. I thought I would never get a job, but I have. People with special needs can do it if they put their minds to it.”

Project SEARCH is an innovative one-year internship programme which is helping 18 to 24 year old students with a learning disability or autism into employment. It’s a partnership between NDHT, Sodexo, Petroc and Pluss (a social enterprise that supports people with disabilities in Devon). It has been going from strength to strength since it launched in North Devon in September 2013.

The award winning Project SEARCH Barnstaple has been supporting eight Petroc interns on the programme this academic year and they have been working successfully in a wide variety of placements across the Trust. The departments that have supported and benefited from project SEARCH are pathology – microbiology, emergency department, medical assessment unit (MAU), King George V and Victoria wards, Sodexo patient support assistants, domestics and recycling, receipts and distribution, general medical secretaries and optometry.

The interns have exceeded all expectations and thanks to their hard work and the fantastic feedback of the teams they have been working in, they are now ready for employment.

The remaining interns in the programme continue to provide the Trust and Sodexo an excellent helping hand in exchange for increasing their employability.

Dave Bridges, the Project SEARCH instructor at NDHT, said: “I have every faith that all of these students will make excellent employees as they are so motivated and dedicated to both getting a job and also working for the NHS. Working through the pandemic hasn’t been easy but they have certainly risen to the challenge and I’m very proud of what they have achieved.”

Hannah Foster, chief people officer at NDHT, said: “As a trust we are committed to providing opportunities for young people, and so we are delighted to welcome Chris and Emily on to our staff team. Project SEARCH interns always make a huge contribution to the running of our Trust and it is always hugely satisfying when this results in permanent employment for any of the young people taking part. It also reinforces our commitment to ensuring our workforce is as diverse and inclusive as possible.”

Find out more about Project SEARCH at


Posted in News.

Last updated: April 9, 2021