To mark South Asian Heritage Month, 17-year-old Abdur Rehman talks about how he celebrates his Pakistani heritage and how the Project SEARCH internship has helped him gain valuable experience in the workplace.
Celebrating my Pakistani heritage
Hello, my name is Abdur. I am 17 years old and of Pakistani origins. I celebrate Being Pakastani by spending time listening to stories and learning about the culture from my family. At home we speak Urdu, which is the main language spoken in Pakistan. Although, I haven't been able to travel to Pakistan very often, my favourite foods to eat when I go there are Biryani, Roti, Naan and a dish called Nihari (a type of beef stew).
I was one of six interns
I have autism and ADHD and I am severely sight impaired, so for most of my schooling I attended Joseph Clarke School a special visual impairment school, part of Whitefield Academy Trust. This year I have been on a supported internship programme called DFN Project SEARCH.
I was one of six interns to be at the new St Bartholomew’s Hospital site. I am an independent traveller and like to find my way around. I enjoy repairing laptops and computers to find out how they work. I need to be kept busy and like a challenge. As a South Asian living in London I have found the community to be very inviting and welcoming. I have found London to be an open city for people with disabilities as it has a transport system like no other. As such, I travel on it every day.
DFN Project SEARCH is a programme that helps young people with disabilities adapt and cope with the workplace environment and supports young people to get a job. It has definitely helped me and I have found it to be a good transition from school into the world of work.
I had great mentors and teams
I have enjoyed the opportunity to work in different departments across the hospital and to learn new skills. I have worked with great mentors and teams. My first placement was in Main Stores. I learned how to find my way around the hospital and the different departments. I worked with a mentor and the job coach would support me every day to help me learn more skills.
For my second placement I worked with Linet Beds, cleaning the mattresses, logging work onto a computer and going onto the wards to assist fixing or adjusting the beds. I learned a lot in this placement, which continued on to Whipps Cross Hospital. This was a good experience for me to see how different hospitals work and work alongside another team improving my team working skills and my way finding skills. For part of my third placement I worked in the Therapies Department working with a colleague to phone patients to remind them of their appointments. In this department I made a big difference getting the ‘do not attend’ numbers down. Layering on all my experiences I returned to St Bartholomew’s Hospital to work with the porters in the administrative office taking calls. I have learned so much!
I have grown as a person
I find reading things a challenge due to my visual impairment but I have put strategies and reasonable adjustments in place to help me with this. I have a special laptop with a magnifier.
I would definitely recommend DFN Project SEARCH to students with disabilities. It has been a life changing experience for me and shown me skills I never realised or thought I had. I have grown as a person, become more confident and definitely more responsible. I also have a good understanding of what the workplace expects and I am working towards getting a job.
People can get involved in DFN Project SEARCH through school or college connections.