Royal Lancaster Infirmary welcomes young people with learning disabilities and autism to employment programme

A new life-changing employment programme for young people with learning disabilities and autism is about to launch at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

By Michelle Blade
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:34 pm

Royal Lancaster Infirmary, HFT, DFN Project SEARCH, Lancaster & Morecambe College and Lancashire County Council have formed a collaborative partnership to give young people with learning disabilities and autism vital work-based learning opportunities within Royal Lancaster Infirmary, to help them to secure meaningful, paid employment.

The DFN Project SEARCH programme will recruit eight-12 interns, aged 18-24, from across North Lancashire.

The individuals will be learning competitive and transferable skills for a variety of roles at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and will undertake employability training each day to develop their work-based skills.

Lancaster Royal Infirmary. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

DFN Project SEARCH is a transition to work programme with ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning disabilities and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade.

The pioneering programme involves total workplace immersion at its very best, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on skills training.

Ray Olive, assistant director of people and organisational development of UHMBT, said: “As an actively inclusive organisation, we are all very excited to welcome these fantastic young people to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

"This programme will ensure that they learn important skills to gain employment following the programme either with the trust or another local employer.”

“Working with this cohort, who are from our local community, shows our commitment to improve opportunities for individuals with disability to gain employment and to help with widening participation for individuals. Being an active supporter of this programme helps the wider community across the Bay in creating and developing opportunities for all.”

Edwina Grant OBE, Executive Director of Education and Children's Services at Lancashire County Council, said: “It is so important for young people with learning disabilities and autism to have equal access to employment and advancement opportunities, and the DFN Project SEARCH programme is helping to make that happen.”

"The internship training, support in building strong relationships and confidence this initiative can provide for young people is invaluable, setting them up with the skills and experience they need to access wonderful opportunities and flourish in adulthood.”

"In Lancashire, our vision is that children, young people and their families are safe, healthy and achieve their full potential, and I am delighted that this initiative can do just that – help young people to realise and achieve their goals and all of the fantastic things they have to offer."

Charlotte Rawes, Vice Principal (Progress and Performance), at Lancaster & Morecambe College said: “Being part of the Supported Internship programme allows us to provide an additional opportunity for our learners to work within a key local organisation and to develop vital employability skills and competencies in order to be successful.”

“It is a real privilege to be part of this programme and we are keen to support our interns to develop crucial vocational skills, knowledge and behaviours, and to be successful in securing lifelong employment.”

You can learn more about DFN Project SEARCH here