Celebrating the latest graduates from DFN Project SEARCH

Celebrating the latest graduates from DFN Project SEARCH

The latest group of interns from the DFN Project SEARCH initiative celebrated the completion of their training at a special graduation ceremony at University Hospital Crosshouse (UHC) on Friday 23 June.

Guests from NHS Ayrshire & Arran, East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire College attended the ceremony, along with family and friends, to watch the seven inspiring young interns be presented with their completion certificate by East Ayrshire Provost, Councillor Jim Todd.

The DFN Project SEARCH programme has been operating in East Ayrshire for 10 years and is designed to support young people with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions to gain valuable employment skills. Project Search is one of a number of employment programmes offered as part of Ayrshire Anchor initiatives on employment and as part of NHS Ayrshire’s Community Wealth Building Fair Work/Workforce pillar.

The interns completed 36 weeks of training and gained practical experience within different areas of UHC, East Ayrshire Council and local businesses. The programme helps to build confidence, self-esteem and independence. Three of the graduates have already been offered posts as a result of their placements in East Ayrshire.

Claire Burden, NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Chief Executive, said: “This is a wonderful example of partnership working with a tangible, positive impact for both participants and employers. It was humbling to hear the breadth of work these young people have been involved in and the learning opportunities and life skills that they have benefitted from. We are fully committed to continuing our collaboration with East Ayrshire Council and Ayrshire College to deliver the DFN Project SEARCH for local 17 to 29 year olds with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions. My heartfelt congratulations and warm wishes to the 2023 intern graduates!”

Joseph Harvie, Procurement Officer within Pharmacy at UHC and mentor to some of the interns, added: “It has been an honour to play a small part in the success of this year’s Project SEARCH interns. They are a credit to themselves and the programme and have worked extremely hard to gain the new skills and confidence they will go on to use in future employment opportunities.”

Joshua Wallace, an intern who completed work placements in NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Procurement Department, Marks & Spencer and the Park Hotel, said: “When I joined Project SEARCH it gave me work experience opportunities. I am now so much better at communicating with others. I now feel that my life has a purpose.”

Intern Callum Lindsay said: “Before Project SEARCH I wasn’t very confident and wasn’t sure where to start with work and work experience. Project SEARCH gave me the opportunity to get that work experience and gave me the confidence to go for interviews. I feel like I have grown as a person throughout the year and it’s been a great experience that I would recommend to anyone considering joining the course”.

The graduation ceremony concluded with a performance from the interns of a song they had written called ‘Movin’ On’. The lyrics captured the positive experience that they had with Project SEARCH – the chorus included ‘don’t give up, don’t give in’ as the message. All interns were extremely positive about the support from the Project SEARCH co-ordinators and their job placement colleagues and thanked them with a small presentation.

If you are an employer who is interested in recruiting a Project SEARCH intern, or would like to know more, please email Jonny Baillie, NHS Ayrshire & Arran Employability Advisor, on jonny.baillie@aapct.scot.nhs.uk

To find out more about NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Community Wealth Building Fair Work/Workforce pillar, visit https://www.nhsaaa.net/services-a-z/community-wealth-building/

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