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DFN PROJECT SEARCH CELEBRATES SUCCESS STORIES AT SPOTLIGHT AWARDS CEREMONY

DFN Project SEARCH interns, graduates and partners from across the UK have been recognised for outstanding achievements at the leading learning disability charity’s Spotlight Awards ceremony.

Over 1480 young people with learning disabilities and autism have now graduated and secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

DFN Project SEARCH also recognised the fantastic impact of young people securing frontline roles during the Pandemic.

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said: “Although our annual awards ceremony has once again been very different as we continue to emerge from the Pandemic, it hasn’t stopped us from celebrating the amazing achievements of our inspiring interns, graduates and incredible partners – and together we are helping transform the lives of young people with learning disabilities and autism and supporting them to find meaningful jobs.”

DFN Project SEARCH, a leading transition to employment charity for young people with learning disability and autism, is celebrating its success stories over the last 12 months at its Spotlight Awards ceremony.

DFN Project SEARCH interns, graduates and partners from across the UK have been recognised at the Spotlight Awards for outstanding achievements whilst providing continuity and employment pathways for young interns throughout the Pandemic.

The Spotlight Awards help shine a light on the contributions made throughout the pandemic by all those involved in its transition to employment programmes across the country and also the transformative impact DFN Project SEARCH programmes are having on young people with learning disabilities and autism.

DFN Project SEARCH also recognised the fantastic impact of young people securing frontline roles during the crisis.

The award celebrations took place Friday (July 16th) with over 80 guests attending the virtual event to celebrate and recognise the achievements of all the people involved in different areas of the charity.

Eight awards were presented at the ceremony to outstanding individuals and DFN Project SEARCH teams based throughout the country.

The ‘Spotlight’ award categories helped to celebrate the success of interns and recent graduates who have successfully navigated the challenges of the pandemic, DFN Project SEARCH partners who have made a positive and long-lasting impact on the young people and communities, as well as the innovation of programme sites up and down the country, which is helping to support even more young people with learning disabilities and autism secure meaningful jobs.

Over 1,480 young people have now graduated and secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

DFN Project SEARCH is a transition to work programme for students with learning disabilities and autism with ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning difficulties and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade.

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.

Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH said: “The past 12 months have been truly transformational as we have responded to the pandemic but our interns and recent graduates, programme sites, and partners have undoubtedly risen to the challenge.

“Although our annual awards ceremony has once again been very different as we continue to emerge from the pandemic, it hasn’t stopped us from celebrating the amazing achievements of our inspiring interns, graduates and incredible partners – and together we are helping change the lives of young people with learning disabilities and autism through supporting them to find meaningful jobs.

“Huge congratulations to all the winners, we’ve seen some fantastic achievements for another year running, which is a testament to everyone involved in the DFN Project SEARCH programmes across the country. Together we are transforming lives for many young people with learning disabilities and autism, helping them to be recognised as a fantastic talent for employers.”

DFN Project SEARCH works to build a more inclusive society by helping to create much improved career opportunities for those with learning disabilities and autism through 70 supported internships schemes across the UK, and the charity is succeeding even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest data from DFN Project SEARCH shows that in the past 12 months, 141 interns secured 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.

The full list of Spotlights awards and winners includes:

  • Intern Spotlight Awards
    • Inspirational intern/graduate: Award for an intern or graduate who has demonstrated their ability to overcome challenges and face adversity during the pandemic
    • Graduate key worker contribution: An award for an intern or graduate who has put themselves on the frontline in serving their community
  • Partnership Spotlight Awards
    • Standout partnership: An award for a partnership that has shown great collaborative working to support young people with learning disabilities and autism to achieve the ultimate goal of employment
    • Community influence: An award for a partnership that has had a positive influence or impact on their community. This could be through valued in work, employer engagement or other routes
  • Innovation Spotlight Awards
    • Above & beyond: An award for a whole team or individual members of the partnership (including interns) who have gone above and beyond and have made a significant impact on others
    • Engaging employers: An award for those who have displayed creative and innovative job development skills in engaging new employers
  • Lorraine Cameron Award for Equality
  • ValYOU Award
  • Winners

Winners

  • Engaging Employers Award: Cameron Shewan, University of Aberdeen programme
  • Inspirational Intern Award: Thenesh Siridaran, Northwick park Hospital programme
  • Graduate key worker contribution Award: Rhianna Lavender, London Heathrow Marriott programme
  • Community Influence Award: Calico Burnley Intern Team
  • Standout Partnership Award: Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Above & Beyond Award: Amy Vinall, St George’s Hospital,
  • ValYOU Award: Bridgend College, PHS Group,
  • Lorraine Cameron Award for Equality: Gordon Smith, Mid Yorkshire

You can learn more about DFN Project SEARCH at https://www.dfnprojectsearch.org/.