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City Health Care Partnership CIC welcomes talented young interns to life-changing DFN Project SEARCH transition to employment programme

A new life-changing DFN Project SEARCH transition to employment programme for young people with learning disabilities and autism, has just launched in Hull and East Riding at City Health Care Partnership CIC (CHCP). CHCP is a leading provider of NHS services in the area, with over 2,300 employees working in the co-owned, ‘for better profit' community interest company.

CHCP, DFN Project SEARCH, Wilberforce Sixth Form College, Hull City Council, and East Riding of Yorkshire Council have formed a collaborative partnership to give young people in the area with learning disabilities and autism vital work-based learning opportunities within CHCP, to help them to secure meaningful paid employment.

The DFN Project SEARCH programme offers seven interns from the Hull area aged between 17 and 24 the chance to learn competitive and transferable skills in a variety of roles at CHCP. The learners will receive an employability curriculum each day to develop their work-based skills.

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 disabilities and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade. The pioneering programme involves total workplace immersion at its very best, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on skills training.

Over 1600 young people with learning disabilities and autism have now graduated with over 1,475 interns securing full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK. Typically, 70% of interns secure employment against the national average of just 5.1%.

Miriam Sykes, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion lead at CHCP said: "We're all very excited to welcome these fantastic young people to our business and to help them develop their skills and confidence.

"The number of young adults with learning disabilities in employment is shockingly low. I'm delighted that we will be able to make our own contribution to help address that, and I really hope that some of our first 10 interns will be able to find jobs with us as well as other local employers. That way the whole business community will benefit from the development of this untapped talent pool.”

Councillor Shane McMurray, Hull City Council's Portfolio Holder for Children's Services said: "It's very important that everyone should be able to have equal access when it comes to the workplace, and I'm thrilled that Hull City Council can work with the DFN Project SEARCH programme to help support people with learning disabilities and autism in our community. "I wish all of our interns the very best of luck on their programme and I look forward to seeing their careers flourish.”

Stewart Edwards, Assistant Principal from Wilberforce Sixth Form College, said: "Wilberforce Sixth Form College is extremely proud to be part of the Project Search initiative. As an extremely successful education provider, we aim to provide our students with the best opportunities to progress into further or higher education, training or employment once they have successfully completed their time with us.

"Being part of the supported internship programme allows us to provide an amazing opportunity for our interns to work within a key local organisation and to develop vital employability skills and competencies in order to be successful. Our collaboration with the stakeholder organisations will ensure that we maintain these life-changing opportunities for those young people who are often overlooked and we will continue with our campaign to educate others to the benefits of employing young people with learning disabilities and autism

"It is a real privilege to be part of this programme. We are all immensely proud of the interns and are excited to see them progress and develop and to be successful in securing lifelong employment.”

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said: "We are very proud to be launching our programme here in Hull with City Health Care Partnership and our other amazing new partners. We are delighted that our first cohort of interns have started as they are at the very start of their DFN Project SEARCH journey to obtain valuable work experience that will help transform their lives.

"We can't wait to see the fantastic work they will be doing here and have the opportunity to demonstrate how young people with autism and learning disabilities, when given the right support, can truly thrive and make a huge contribution to society.”

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 76 operational supported internships schemes across the UK and growing.