Young person with disabilities shadowing a colleague

Essex NHS trust forms partnership to offer supported internships

For young people with learning disabilities or autism, getting a job can be both a significant challenge but also a hugely important step towards independence. In partnership with the local authority and a teaching college, The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSEFT) have brought in a new project to help develop opportunities for these young people.

Launching in September, the Supported Intern programme will be an ambitious partnership which will see eligible students from South Essex College undertake internships at Basildon Hospital to give them the skills needed to enter employment.

Supported internships are structured study programmes, based primarily in the workplace, which have been specifically designed to offer the necessary training, support and work skills needed.

MSEFT will be running these supported internships at its Basildon Hospital site, where interns will have the opportunity to work in a variety of roles over a nine-month period and develop the skills they need to move into paid employment within the trust.

Key to helping support these young people with disabilities to make a successful transition from school to productive adult life and regular employment is combining real-life working experiences with training in employability and independent living skills.

Students will be treated as an employee of the trust and will be supported by a job coach throughout the placement. They will build communication and problem-solving skills, as well as job-specific skills, through worksite rotations.

Rob Brunger, Head of Inclusion and Engagement at Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be partnering with South Essex College and Essex County Council on this programme.

“Covid-19 has taught us all that there is great strength in partnership working. The Trust’s size, reach and influence means it’s in a unique position to provide opportunities to the local communities it serves that go beyond being an excellent healthcare provider.

“It’s a privilege for us to be able to work closely with our local authority and Education sector partners to be able to improve life chances for local people”.

Paul Sampson-Mileham, Head of Learning and Progression at South Essex College, added: “This is a very exciting project which will see the college working closely with MSEFT to allow young people in the Basildon area to gain valuable employment and life skills which will help them to achieve sustainable careers and independence.

“Our job coaches offer full support to the interns. Because the hospital has many departments, we will be able to draw on the expertise of the NHS staff in order to identify the right area of work to meet the intern’s aspirations.”

Further information about Supported Internships can be found here.

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