Marking the first-ever National Supported Internship Day | News from Whipps Cross Hospital

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Marking the first-ever National Supported Internship Day

To showcase the amazing work that interns and graduates from Whitefield Academy Trust’s Project SEARCH do at Whipps Cross and mark the first-ever National Supported Internship Day, we held a special celebration at the hospital on Monday 27 March.

Whipps Cross is one of the 120 sites UK-wide where DFN Project SEARCH programme is taking place. We currently have 12 interns working across the hospital and a number of graduates from the programme have been successfully recruited full-time after finishing the programme.

As part of the celebrations, a group of high-level representatives from DFN Project SEARCH, Youth Futures Foundation, Whitefield Academy Trust and Barts Health visited a few of the interns who are working across Whipps Cross and spoke to them about their experience so far and the impact the programme has had on them. 

The group also met some of the 44 graduates who are working in the hospital. The graduates spoke to the guests about how their time on DFN Project SEARCH has prepared them for the world of work and allowed them to secure meaningful, paid employment.

Guests included David Forbes-Nixon and Claire Cookson, Executive Chair and CEO, respectively, at DFN Project SEARCH, Dame Julia Cleverdon, Non-Executive Director of Youth Futures Foundation and Kirstie Fulthorpe – CEO, Whitefield Academy Trust. They were also joined by Shane DeGaris Group Chief Executive at Barts Health and Ralph Coulbeck, CEO at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Led by charity DFN Project SEARCH, National Supported Internship Day – a government backed national day - was launched on 27 March for the first time ever to showcase the tremendous contribution young adults with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can make to the workforce and raise awareness of the hugely positive impact a supported internship has on the lives of the interns who take part. 

David Forbes Nixon, who also founded DFN Project SEARCH, said:

‘We created National Supported Internships Day to give every young adult with a learning disability the same opportunities as anyone else to transition from education to employment.  There is often a fear factor among employers of getting it wrong in hiring young adults with a learning disability, but it doesn’t need to be like that. It makes good business sense to explore the wealth of untapped potential among this group of enthusiastic and capable young people. They are keen, ambitious, and have an array of talent to offer employers.”

He added:

“It’s no surprise that we are here at Whipps Cross; we are running the project across 120 sites but Whipps Cross is our oldest site.”

Commenting on the day, Janet Wingate-Whyte, Head of Project SEARCH at Whitefield Academy Trust, said:

“It has been an honour to host the first-ever Supported Internship Day and to show our visitors how our interns and graduates are thriving here.  They are our best advocates for what people with SEND can achieve and how much they can contribute to the workplace.  Having been based at Whipps Cross Hospital for almost ten years, you can scarcely walk down the corridor without bumping into one of our graduates who has secured permanent employment here.  They have each earned their positions on their own merit and it’s wonderful to see their confidence, independence and self-esteem continue to grow.”

Ralph Coulbeck, Chief Executive at Whipps Cross Hospital, said:

“It’s a privilege to be able to help support our Project SEARCH interns at Whipps Cross. Having a nationally recognised day to celebrate their achievements is so deserved and we are delighted to be involved. We are very proud of all our interns and their contributions to our hospital. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with DFN Project Search and helping young adults gain useful skills and employment with us.”


More about DFN Project SEARCH

Through its DFN Project SEARCH programme, Whitefield Academy Trust gives young people aged 16-24 with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) real hands-on experience of the work place and equips them with vital employability skills. 

Barts Health currently has 18 interns working across two Whipps Cross Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.  Over the course of ten months, the interns spend time carrying out proper jobs in different departments across the hospital gaining important and useful skills.  Placements include as ward hosts, in administrative roles, as porters and in maintenance teams.  Interns also complete an ASDAN Employability qualification which teaches them skills such as how to search for jobs, how to write a CV and how to prepare for an interview.

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