Project Choice student embarks on career with North East based Foundation Trust

Katherine Long was recently appointed as an Assistant Technical Officer after completing a one year placement with Project Choice at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Katherine,19, began her placement in September 2017. She started in the Pathology department before moving into the Quality Control laboratory (QC lab). During her time in the QC lab she shadowed staff across the department, eventually becoming part of the team responsible for distributing orders to customers.

In August 2018, Katherine applied for a role within the QC lab in which she was successful, joining the Trust in October 2018. As an Assistant Technical Officer within the plate reading team, she analyses plates allowing those results to go out to customers. Working ten hours a week over two days, Katherine is quickly getting used to the exciting and varied life in the lab.

Project Choice is a supported internship programme for students with learning disabilities, difficulties or autism (LDDA). NHS Health Education England, support NHS Trusts to deliver the programme nationally. The focus is ‘work readiness’ and matching skills to employment.

The project teams ensure there are placements across the Trusts looking specifically at entry-level jobs to make sure the right learner is allocated to this role. They also work closely with managers to confirm that tasks are clearly understood.

The young learners spend a year within their internships with 3 placements which each span 10-12 weeks. In their placement they are embedded in the team. The Project Choice team uses this time to look at any barriers and potential areas of development. Throughout, the learners are gradually assessed on how ready for employment they are.

The scheme also incorporates a work experience element supported by the Trusts. This gives students an opportunity to develop skills for the workplace and ensures young people with LDDA understand the importance of matching their skill sets to work while still in education.

Katherine Long, Assistant Technical Officer at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust: “I really enjoyed my placement with the Trust and felt like I learnt a whole new world of work. I worked really hard in the QC lab helping out where ever I could. When the opportunity came up to work for the Trust, I went for it. I was over the moon to get the job as an Assistant Technical Officer!”

Susan Porteous, Business Manager at the Quality Control Laboratory, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust: “Katherine has settled in well in the Lab and is keen to learn. She gets on brilliantly with all of her colleagues and is a happy and friendly member of the team. We are delighted to be able to support the Project Choice programme by offering the right participants a role within the Trust. We are really pleased to have her on board!”

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