Musgrove Park Hospital has welcomed its latest group of interns through the internationally acclaimed Project SEARCH work experience scheme.
The one-year programme gives young people with learning disabilities a chance to develop skills and work experience so they can find paid employment in the future.
During their time at the hospital, the interns will complete three work placements each, supported by a job coach to learn skills in their work area.
This year a total of 11 interns have been selected to take part in the programme. They will work at areas across the hospital, ranging from X-Ray, sterile services and intensive therapy unit to cleaning, ward-based work and IT helpdesk.
The programme is funded by Somerset County Council, with Bridgwater and Taunton College providing a tutor, and Aspire giving support through its job coach.
Last year’s Project SEARCH scheme proved a great success with at least three of the interns going on to secure paid work as a direct result of their experience at Musgrove.
Tilly Paul, an intern working at the intensive care unit, said: ‘I feel Project SEARCH has brought out a different side to me – a more mature me. I am hoping to get a job at the end of the course.”
Intern Liam Inchley said: “I really enjoy working at the hospital as I like to feel part of the NHS. I really like working on Hestercombe ward because the staff are very friendly and the patients have been very kind.”
Hayley Peters, executive director of patient care at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “We were very proud to see the outstanding achievements of our Project SEARCH interns last year. They really brought such energy to their work at our hospital, and it’s great to see the positive benefits their internship has had on them.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming the new group of interns, who will hopefully go on to reach their potential here at Musgrove.”
Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, William Wallace, said: “I’m thrilled that we have been able to support young people with learning disabilities in getting the skills, experience, knowledge and confidence to move into the world of employment. I look forward to seeing how the new interns get on this year at Musgrove Park Hospital.”
Kim Williams, Bridgwater and Taunton College’s Project SEARCH tutor, said: “Our 11 interns have just completed their inductions at the hospital and so far their level of dedication has been very positive.
“I know they are all looking forward to starting their first work rotations with the support of their departmental mentors.”
Jon Wright, assistant team manager at Aspire, said he was thrilled at the success of Project SEARCH and its expansion in its second year.
“The opportunities that Musgrove has offered have made a real difference to young people learning the skills needed to be successful in the workplace,” he said.
“The staff have been welcoming and supportive of the interns, providing mentor support that has had real difference to their lives.”
Photo – Eleven of Musgrove’s Project SEARCH interns are pictured with (far left to right): Dawn Peters (Project SEARCH coordinator), Kim Williams (tutor), and (far right): Hannah Phillips (Job coach), (third from right): Michele Nicholls (job coach)