Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust are expanding their internship programme for young people with learning disabilities and autism.
The Supported Internship Programme currently has 12 students gaining work experience at Basildon Hospital, where the pilot project began.
The success of the programme, run in partnership by the Trust and South Essex College, means that from September it will expand to include 12 students each at Broomfield and Southend hospitals, while the Basildon programme is renewed.
The programme has seen eligible students from the College taking the next step to securing a job through internships at the hospital.
It’s all about real-life work experience where participants learn skills for independent living and a productive adult working life.
The students have been supported by dedicated job coaches throughout their placement, meaning the hospital knows how best to fit them in to busy departments in both clinical and non-clinical areas.
Ruby Shulver, who is supporting healthcare assistants (HCAs) on Lionel Cosin ward at Basildon Hospital, said, “I want to have a career in healthcare, and the HCAs on the ward have been really helpful in teaching us, even when they have a lot do. If you like helping others, then this is for you.”
Elliott Lind, who has been part of the portering team at the hospital, said: “My confidence has grown and I’m now thinking about career options I never would have considered before. Next month I’ll start working in the pharmacy stores where I will deliver medicines. I’m really looking forward to it!”
Emma Childs, the unit manager for Lionel Cosin, said: “Our Trust’s size means we’re in a unique position to provide opportunities to our local communities, and it’s been great to work closely with South Essex College and Essex County Council to improve life chances for local people.
The ward is a busy environment and there can be a lot to pick up, the interns have settled in well and got on with their duties. They have so much to offer and have been keen and enthusiastic, so I’d say well done to them.”
Sam Dunphy, Supported Internship Team Leader at South Essex College, said: “This is a very exciting project and it has been great to see South Essex College and the Trust work closely together to allow young to people gain valuable employment and life skills.
“It has been a pleasure to see the students work in various roles at the hospital and draw on the expertise of the NHS staff to identify the right area of work to meet their aspirations.”