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Landmark Moment Reached For Learning Disability Charity DFN Project SEARCH As Founder’s Son Joins The Supported Employment Programme

DFN Project SEARCH, a leading support employment charity for young people with learning disabilities and autism has reached a landmark milestone.

Charlie Forbes-Nixon, the son of founder David Forbes-Nixon, has recently joined one of its supported internship programmes in London.

Charlie, who has learning disabilities, has taken his place in the 2021 cohort at Queen Mary University as one of nine interns who have started on the DFN Project SEARCH programme this new academic year.

Charlie joining the programme represents a monumental milestone for DFN Project SEARCH, and the Forbes-Nixon family, as Charlie is David’s inspiration behind creating the charity to ensure that young people with learning disabilities can access good quality education and receive the skills and support they need to improve their employment prospects.

The milestone follows another special moment for the charity as David Forbes-Nixon was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List back in June for his charitable efforts.

Compared to the general population, young people with a learning disability are less likely to be in full time paid employment with nationally only 5.9% of people with special educational needs and disabilities gaining permanent paid employment in the UK.

DFN Project SEARCH works to build a more inclusive society by helping young people with learning disabilities and autism to access high quality work-related learning through immersive supported internships leading to a much-improved opportunity to access long-term, full time paid employment.

The pioneering programme is total workplace immersion at its very best, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on skills training.

Over 1,475 young people have now graduated and secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

Latest data from DFN Project SEARCH shows that in the past 12 months, 209 interns secured employment with an incredible 175 interns securing full-time well-paid work. DFN Project SEARCH interns secured these roles when the country was in full lockdown with many of the roles classified as key workers. Additionally, 25 percent of interns are from BAME backgrounds, nearly twice as high as the UK population of 13 percent.

As part of the supported employment programme at Queen Mary University Charlie and his classmates have developed their own short, medium, and long-term career goals.

For his first work rotation Charlie is completing a reception role where he is carrying out administrative duties followed by a library rotation in term two which starts in January.

During the programme induction, Charlie and his classmates have completed various health and safety courses like Food Safety Level 1, COSHH, Fire Safety and Manual Handling which will support them in their job rotations during the programme and for future career opportunities.

DFN Project SEARCH has ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning disabilities and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade and 20,000 in the next 15 years.

David Forbes-Nixon, DFN Project SEARCH Founder said: "It is incredibly challenging for people with learning disabilities and autism to get the education and support they need to prepare them to find long term meaningful employment, and more progress needs to be made to create employment opportunities for young people with disabilities.

"Charlie joining DFN Project SEARCH as an intern is a special moment for us as a family, and as a father it is amazing to see Charlie start his journey to employment. I can’t wait to see how he develops along the way with the support of the brilliant mentors and job coaches that are part of DFN Project SEARCH."

Charlie Forbes-Nixon said: "Im just at the beginning of my DFN Project SEARCH journey but I’m already learning so much. I'm really looking forward to all the skills and experience that this internship will bring me, so I can secure a meaningful job which many young people with disabilities struggle to find in society."