In recognition of Disability History Month, we spoke to Natalie, one of our Project Search interns on her experience working at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Natalie, 18, has dyslexia and additional learning needs. She achieved a professional chef diploma at college and is completing a placement within the catering department.
Working as a Barista in Elior, Fontanella and Bakewell, she serves customers preparing food and drinks and taking payments at the tills.
“I love to help people and be useful which is why working in the hospital really appealed to me. Everyone tells me I have a bubbly, friendly and caring personality and so working here is a great fit.
“In school I always had a learning support assistant with me, so working in the hospital has made me more independent. I enjoyed school but I prefer how the workplace is more practical rather than academic.”
Project Search is a transition to work programme, which gives young adults aged 17-24 with learning disabilities the opportunity to gain real-life work experience.
For the first time the project has offered students from our local boroughs to undertake 3 placements across ten months at St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
“Project Search has been amazing. My mentor has been super supportive and congratulates me whenever I get things right, which has boosted my self-confidence. She helps me stay calm even when times are busy and stressful. I have received great feedback of how my colleagues are impressed with me.
“My family have noticed what a positive impact it has had on me. I am a lot more confident and happier and learning lots of new skills which will benefit me when I start searching for work.”
Disability History Month runs through 16 November – 16 December each year. It was established in the UK in 2010 to promote the struggles that disabled people face for equality and human rights. The theme of this year’s month is Disability, Health and Wellbeing.
“To me Disability Awareness Month is about promoting equality. People look down on those with learning needs and see us as different just because our brains work differently. This month highlights how we are all human with our own individual skills.
“I would like to pursue a full-time career in catering. My dream would be to open my own bakery or a street food stall.”