New project helping young people with learning difficulties work in NHS

YOUNG people with learning disabilities are being offered life changing opportunities to work in the NHS thanks to a new initiative.

Project Choice has placed nine of its members into volunteering roles at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The programme, funded by Health Education England, aims to help young people with learning disabilities, difficulties and autism by setting up placements to get them the work experience they need to get into paid employment within a year.

Area manager Steph Walker said: “We are delighted with how all of our young people at the trust are doing so far. They are all gaining experience and bridging that gap between the skills they have and those they will need to be in full time employment.”

“Our support is tailored to each person and we match employment options to each person’s skills. The interns we have working at the University Hospital of North Tees are doing an array of different roles including finance, portering, elderly care and sterile services to name but a few.

“We are looking to increase our scope of placements that we can offer our interns as their interest and range of skills grow.”

Dominic Cain and Ryan Watson are two of the young people who continue to progress since joining the trust.

Dominic, who is 18 and has autism, has been working as a porter.

He said: “I like everything about this job. I’ve been here 10 weeks now and am really starting to feel like I know the role. I would definitely want to work here if given the chance.”

Head porter Andy Howard said: “Dominic has been doing really well. He keeps progressing. He’s enjoying it and is now very much part of the team. All of the staff have taken him under their wing.

“I would certainly like to offer him a job here when the time comes.”

Ryan, who is deaf, has been working in central stores.

He is helped by communication support worker Ian Chamberlain from MeSign sign language specialists.

Ian said: “Ryan is meeting people and is growing in confidence – I see it every day.

“This will give him the experience he needs to be able to go out and get a full time job.”

Anyone interested in finding out more or exploring whether a placement would work in their service area can contact or 07866757262.

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