DFN Project SEARCH students celebrate their success

Jul 12, 2023

The one-year transition to work programme came to a close for the 2022/23 cohort as interns from the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, and the ICS, celebrated their completed internship at a number of graduation ceremonies.

The project, delivered in partnership with national learning disability charity Hft, works with young adults with a learning disability or autism spectrum conditions, providing real-life work experience, training in employability and independent living skills.

Ensuring that trainees can make successful transitions from school to adult life, the interns are now ready to progress into careers thanks to the time spent with DFN Project SEARCH.

Celebrating this achievement, friends and family of DFN Project SEARCH interns gathered to proudly acknowledge the success of the interns and see them take their next step into employment.

With the first ceremony held at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield on Tuesday 27th June, the event was also attended by Len Richards, Chief Executive Officer of Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, as well as teaching and support staff from the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group.

Len Richards, Chief Executive of Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, said: “It was wonderful to attend the Project SEARCH graduation earlier this month and see the latest cohort of interns confidently graduate from the course, ready to start the next stage of their careers. At Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, we are proudly committed to supporting young people with learning disabilities to get the best start possible in the world of employment. It has been an exciting year for the programme, I have thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the growth of the individuals who have joined us this year. Whether they’re continuing their journey here at Mid Yorkshire or elsewhere, I wish them all the best.”

A second graduation ceremony took place at Wakefield College on Monday 3rd July, for its DFN Project SEARCH ICS students.

The Mayor of Wakefield, Josie Pritchard, was on hand at both ceremonies to give the interns their certificates – highlighting the commitment they have shown whilst part of the project.

Jacob Barnett, who is a DFN Project SEARCH student with the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust, also delivered a speech to graduates, emphasising the positive impact the programme has made on him.

Jacob said: “My experience on the DFN Project SEARCH programme has been brilliant. I got to try a range of different jobs as part of my placement at Kendray Hospital and the staff are very caring and went the extra mile to support me. I was also part of the youth advisory group which I enjoyed – it was good to have a voice and be able to make a difference to the programme. I would recommend the scheme to parents, carers and young people who have autism or a learning disability, as it gives you experience in different areas and helps you to find out what you want to do.”

Laura Lavender, Director of Inclusion at the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the graduates and what they have achieved throughout the programme. For young adults with learning difficulties, DFN Project SEARCH can be a life changing opportunity by giving them insight into what their future job prospects are when they leave college. Completing the programme has not only opened their horizons, but has improved their confidence, enhanced their skills and helped them find their passion. A significant number of graduates have already secured full-time roles – which is a testament to the success of the programme and how it’s enabled interns to make positive first steps into employment.”

70% of people on the Project SEARCH programme with the Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust and external businesses around Wakefield have secured full-time employment after completing the scheme.

In 2021/22, five interns from the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group secured full-time roles at The Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust.

The impact DFN Project SEARCH has on young adults with learning difficulties in the Wakefield District was recently highlighted on the BBC’s The One Show.

The feature saw Katie and Harvey Price visit students Codie Belford and William Jones in their workplace at Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield, to find out how the programme has benefitted them.

Viewers got a glimpse of what Codie’s internship involved as a Ward Domestic, as well as William’s role as a Facilities Porter, at the Trust. Codie’s mum Kerry and William’s dad Stephen also spoke about what it was like for their children growing up and the opportunities the programme has given them.

Find out more about our DFN Project SEARCH programme here.

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