Project SEARCH students complete their first ‘Working Week’

Project SEARCH students at North Devon District hospital have completed their first ‘Working Week’.

This year, due to COVID-19, learners on Project SEARCH have had to carry out reduced hours on their internships. This has meant that, since September, they have only been able to work for three hours a day, compared to the usual five hours a day in placement plus two hours in the training room.

However, the students have taken so well to their new responsibilities that they have been given the opportunity to do a ‘Working Week’ - where they do the same full hours as their mentors without having to go into the training room at all.

The students are placed in a variety of settings including Sodexo housekeeping roles, microbiology, A&E, Optometry and working on hospital wards supporting nursing teams.

Pictured is Andrew Angell finishing his first full shift in the Emergency Department at 8:00pm. Andrew reported that he felt tired but had really enjoyed doing the full shift!

Gail Richards, Training Manager and Apprentice Lead for Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, said: “I am so proud and honoured to work for this Trust, who see our Project SEARCH students as a real benefit to our organisation.”

Project SEARCH is a supported employment program that helps young people with a learning disability or autism get into the job market. In the eight years since Project SEARCH began in Barnstaple, 78% of its interns have entered into long-term employment.

If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in joining Project SEARCH, please contact Dave Bridges, Project SEARCH Instructor, 01271 322498.