St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has partnered with Cricket Green School and Action on Disability to give young adults with learning difficulties the chance to gain valuable work experience, in a programme called Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH is an international training programme aimed at supporting young people with learning disabilities into paid employment, running at 30+ sites across the UK.
What is it all about?
The Project SEARCH programme is a nine month long training and employment opportunity for adults aged 18-24 with a learning disability, which takes place entirely at the St George’s Hospital site. Project SEARCH provides real life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills, as well as formulating a CV, to help young people with learning difficulties to make successful transitions from s chool to productive adult life. The goal for each student is competitive employment somewhere in the community using the skills they have acquired at St George’s.
How does Project SEARCH at St George’s work?
Project SEARCH has been running at St George’s Hospital since November 2012. There are 6 trainees based at the hospital for one academic year, where they gain 30 weeks of placement experience in different departments in the hospital, including Atkinson Morley Reception, EDM Scanning department, Medical Records, Medical Staffing, Marks & Spencer’s, the University Shop and many more.
The trainees are matched to their placements in terms of skills, abilities and interests, and this differs for each student. The trainees are supported by their mentors who work alongside them in each department, helping them to learn the skills required in each placement, until they can perform the tasks independently.
The trainees also receive support from their on-site job coach and tutor, who support them in placement and help them to develop an employability plan, CV and write letters to employers. The trainees have classroom based learning on topics such as employability skills, social skills and health and safety in the hospital.
What happens after Project SEARCH?
The trainees have shown that people with learning difficulties can be as productive, highly skilled and reliable as any other working member of staff. They will be fully supported into employment in the future, as the project can provide employers with all the support they need as trainees start work, which might involve a job coach as they start in their new position.
What success has there been so far?
74% of past students have gone onto employment inside and outside the Hospital. Within the Hospital, there are graduates working in EDM Scanning department, Marks & Spencer’ s, the University Shop, the Porters department, Theatre Porters, Ingredients Restaurant and Sterile Services department.
There are also graduates working externally with businesses, such as the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, Starbucks, Cricket Green School, Unicorn Theatre and many more.
How can I be involved?
The Project needs:
- Work experience placements at St George’s, with staff who are keen to give our young people the chance they need to realise their potential at work
- Mentors to teach our young people tasks within their role- we offer Disability Confident Mentor Training
- Volunteers/businesses to work alongside the Project doing mock interviews, looking for ideas for employment and making contacts
If you would like to hear more about Project SEARCH and how you could support us, please contact:
Annie Brine, Project Search Co-ordinator with Cricket Green School:Annieb@cricketgreen.merton.sch.uk
Catherine Kiernan, Job Coach with Action on Disability, Catherine.Kiernan@actionondisability.org.uk.
Or like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/projectsearch.stgeorges/
To see our video please click: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MPw_gkpZi4
To find out more: http://www.cricketgreen.merton.sch.uk/project-search/4578432848