DFN Project SEARCH is a 1 year internship programme designed for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities who aspire to get into paid employment.

In 2018/19 there are currently 5 interns. The interns have different learning needs related to memory, communication, social interaction and self-confidence.

These interns are involved in a fully immersive workplace learning programme at NUH Nottingham City Hospital and are acquiring new skills and building their CV in live working environments such as Radiology, Medical Equipment Library, Logistics and Catering. There are many departments available for the interns to be placed within based on their aspirations, suitability and skillsets.

DFN Project SEARCH provides job coaches and supported employment workers to ensure the intern receives all the support necessary to allow them to thrive in their working environment and on the internship programme.

All the interns work towards developing their employability skills, this is predominately learned within the workplace. Additionally, skills such as social interaction, communication, work readiness, CV building and job applications are developed within a training area on site at the City Hospital.

We start each day with the interns independently travelling to their place of work, they are supported to travel their working route independently, prior to starting the programme. Interns arrive at the classroom for 9:00am. During time in the classroom we undertake positive preparation for the interns working day. The departments the interns access are different in both their rules, requirements and the training they offer. We encourage interns to spend their lunch times with their co-workers to develop social interaction. Enrichment is often led by the employer. Interns will have the opportunity to be involved in events, training and social activities within their departments.

We work closely with a range of other professionals such as the Nottinghamshire County Council i-Work team and the NHS staff at Nottingham University Hospitals to provide quality internships for our young people to access. Interns are still able to access the services of the specialist staff that work with Foxwood students, for example, Transitions workers, Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists when needed. Communication between home and the Academy is especially important. SEARCH staff predominately communicate via email with parents as well as regularly inviting parents on to site for employment planning meetings.

Interns who make good progress often secure paid jobs. The current national average for students with learning disabilities securing paid jobs once they leave further education is 6%. The chances of securing paid work as at the end of the DFN Project SEARCH programme is 67%. If an intern is unsuccessful in acquiring a job they have the option of volunteering or working with specialist services and groups such as Remploy, Space Inclusive or iWork. All interns will leave with range of employability skills which they can use should they apply for work at a later point.