Anchor youth partnership

Our Anchor youth partnership set out to test if a distinctive, preventative young people’s offer can help support those who are most at risk of being left behind, for instance care leavers and young carers. With the aim of improving health inequalities and outcomes by galvanizing support and activity for disadvantaged young people and their communities.

At the start of February 2023, the HALN Anchor Youth Partnership Test and Learn report [pdf] was completed and submitted to the Health Anchors Learning Network.  This report sets out how the partnership was formed and worked together on a number of key projects including:

  • Pre-employment mapping tool
  • Youth voices listening project
  • Learning disabilities internship
  • Traineeship for vulnerable young people.

The report highlights the importance of partners working together and sharing their knowledge which has enabled the Anchor Youth Partnership to be a useful and effective group.

Youth voices

The Anchor Youth Partnership, working in partnership with Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services and Southend YMCA, carried out a pre-employment listening project with 40 young people, aged 16-21 years old, to get their views on careers advice, pre-employment support and their aspirations for future employment. 

Some of the key findings are listed below:

  • The majority of young people felt that the pre-employment support currently offered did not help them to make informed choices about careers. 
  • Lack of work experience and mental health issues were seen as the biggest challenges when looking for work.
  • 70% of young people asked said they would not want to work in the NHS. 
  • The most important qualities young people look for in a prospective employer are: fair rates of pay, training/development, a good inclusion/diversity policy and flexible working options.  
  • Although young people felt confident with communication skills, team working, problem solving and digital skills, they said that they could use extra help with skills around numeracy, self-management, creativity and self-belief.

These findings have been shared with members of the Anchor Youth Partnership which includes the NHS, local authorities, colleges, voluntary and community organisations and will be used to shape pre-employment support for young people in Southend.

More options need to be available for young people that have had no education - many of the apprenticeships require higher grades (especially in Maths and English). If you have been in care, then you might not have taken exams as you could have had between 10 - 20 different homes/schools.

Young person, Southend YMCA

Additional listening sessions are now underway in Thurrock, Basildon and Chelmsford.

To read the full report, please read anchor-youth-partnership-youth-voices-report.pdf (

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Learning disabilities internships

Championed by our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team in collaboration with Essex County Council and South Essex College, the programme was able to support 12 young people with learning disabilities and/or autism into a 9-month internship during 2021-2022. The ambition was that all interns would gain sustainable quality NHS work or other meaningful employment outside of the Trust, utilising the skills gained during the internship.

Following the success of this pilot the project was scaled up for 2022-2023 to cover the Southend, Chelmsford and Basildon Hospitals, for a total of 34 young people. Service areas for rotations include Audiology, Digital Services, Catering, Library, Cleaning, Portering, Reception, HR, Maintenance, Haematology, Health Records and Pharmacy.

This supported internship scheme is an example of how the Anchor programme has been able to embed its Anchor principles across the Trust, empowering other teams and departments to propose, lead and participate in exciting initiatives. The initiative was showcased at the NHS Disability forum in December 2022 as an exemplar of such initiatives for the benefit of the local community especially those with additional barriers to work such as a disability.

The supported internship will run for a third year in 2023/24.

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Hear from....

A photograph of Archie, an intern at our Trust Archie

Archie left school having achieved great results in his A levels and was interested in starting an apprenticeship.  However, his chosen pathway didn’t transpire and his extreme lack of confidence prevented him from applying for jobs. So when he was told about the internship with South Essex College, he took the opportunity to follow a different pathway.  

Archie’s work placement is with the Estates & Facilities Management (EFM) team, working as a Stores Assistant. His role involves managing stock, ordering new stock and working alongside the wider EFM team. Whilst he was nervous about talking to people when he started the role, he is now happy to chat to patients, giving them directions around the hospital. 

Explaining what he enjoys most about the work placement, Archie says  “the team are brilliant and really supportive.  I enjoy working alongside the electricians and carpenters, you get to see different parts of the hospital and come across new challenges”

Reflecting on his experience of the internship, Archie says “I would never have applied for this role, I had no idea what it was about but now I am here I’m happy and I really enjoy it”.

Archie has grown in confidence throughout the duration of the placement, and is now hoping to secure an apprenticeship role with the EFM team.

Arriving as an extremely quiet and seemingly nervous young man, he has grown his knowledge of the of the storeman role and that of teams within the Trust to an impressive level. His self-esteem and social skills have improved beyond recognition and now include a humorous sense of ‘banter’ with those in the team he works with regularly. It has been a joy to watch Archie grow over the last five months of his internship. 

- Michael Davies, EFM Maintenance

A photograph of Louis, an intern for our Trust Louis

Louis had been having a hard time finding a job and was struggling with his mental health. Despite gaining experience in voluntary roles and a short period of work experience at a garage, the right job role never arose.

Louis says of this time  “things weren't really going well for me, I wasn't in a good position, I wasn't good mentally as well “  

So when South Essex College presented the opportunity of an internship, he took the chance to gain some valuable experience in the workplace.  

Louis’ work placement is with the Portering team and he describes the role as varied and interesting, involving moving patients around the hospital site, carrying out gas checks, oxygen supplies and using the handheld device to manage jobs. Louis has shadowed the more experienced team members and has recently undertaken Patslide training to be able to move patients from a bed to a trolley.

When asked what he most enjoys about portering, Louis said “these patients may have been in hospital for a long time and are worried about what the doctor might say, so I have a chat with them and put them at ease. Not only have I got them to their destination I’ve hopefully made them feel more cheery along the way”. 

As he comes to the end of his placement, Louis is working towards securing a permanent role as a Porter.  Louis said ”If the old me could see me now they would be so surprised about how knowledgeable and confident I am now.”

It has been a pleasure to be able to witness the growth in Louis and the other candidates on the course. Louis has a big personality and its so nice to see interactions with him and the patients as he makes them smile and laugh during the time he has with them. With a bit of time and the support of the amazing job coaches we have been able to provide the students with the skills they need through learning in the workplace. I think there is a big stigma surrounding programmes such as this, and individuals thinking it will take a lot of time from daily duties. However this has not been my experience at all and has been something I have found to be very rewarding. 

Brad Watson, Porters Manager

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Traineeship for vulnerable young people

This traineeship for 18–24-year-olds is a unique opportunity for 9 participants to experience roles and life within the NHS through a 4-5 month paid placement. The target group for the roles will be those who have protected characteristics or disadvantage i.e., homelessness, but not necessarily a disability. The participants will have dedicated support from the Anchor team and carefully selected frontline buddies (MSEFT’s peer support system).

The purpose of this pilot is to have a deep and meaningful impact on those involved, raising aspirations, and opening opportunities to work within the NHS. Through evaluation of this project the aim is to collect quality data and evaluation from the participants, with the findings this will inform Mid and South Essex NHS practice and applications with the ambition of making roles more accessible and open to all and deliverable through voluntary sector support providers. The pilot is focused on enabling those with multiple barriers to work to develop resilience, life skills and gain valuable work experience and employment. 

To find out more about the pre-employment support opportunities available at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, please contact

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