Coby Barrows, Dylan Hardwick, Angharad Jones, Sophie Skinner, Adam Whiteley and Rachel Williams successfully completed internships at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan.
After passing the course, all six have either secured employment or gone on to supported shared apprenticeship schemes or the Step Into Work programme. They were presented with their certificates and a glass trophy each at the Rhos campus.
Project SEARCH is a 12-month internship for young education leavers with learning disabilities or autism, aimed at developing the skills to support them into employment.
The initiative is a four-way partnership between Coleg Llandrillo, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, Agoriad supported employment agency and Project SEARCH.
Ysbyty Glan Clwyd is the host business providing a fully immersive experience of working in a hospital environment.
Coleg Llandrillo’s Independent Living Skills department provides the education aspect and looks after student welfare, while Agoriad provides job coaching, teaching learners the skills needed for particular roles and supporting them while in those roles.
The learners praised the scheme in a YouTube video which you can watch here.
Coby, who worked in the catering department at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, said: “I’ve achieved a lot coming here. I’ve been offered a contract and I’ve made a lot of new friends and met a lot of new people.”
Angharad, who is working towards becoming a healthcare support worker, said: “I’ve achieved a lot. I’ve achieved my own independence and confidence working in a team. What I enjoy about this role is I get to have a work family which supports me with everything. Looking after patients, with each day it can be something new.”
Sophie said: “I’ve enjoyed being part of the domestic team. I’ve achieved getting to this point independently, I’ve worked hard and my confidence has grown a lot as well.”
Rachel also worked in the domestic team, and said: “I’ve achieved working independently and working in a team. I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I’ve learned to believe in myself. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and working in a big environment.”
Adam, who worked as a porter, said: “Before coming here my confidence levels were very low, I was unmotivated. Ever since I came here my confidence levels have been going up and up with each day.
“It’s very good exercise, I do lots of walking because I do portering, and lots of manual handling.”
Dylan worked in receipts and distribution. He said: “The thing I’ve enjoyed about Project SEARCH is working with my colleagues.”
The awards ceremony was opened by Sam McIlvogue, Assistant Principal, Coleg Llandrillo, with Agoriad CEO Arthur Beechy giving a speech praising the achievements of the learners.
The certificates and trophies were handed out by Mandy Hughes, Workforce Modernisation Manager at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).
Jane Myatt, Programme Area Manager for Pre-Vocational Studies and Independent Living Skills at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “The Project Search initiative has provided an excellent opportunity for the six young people, resulting in them gaining paid employment opportunities both within and external to the health board.
“The learners have all grown in confidence and become very responsible young people working in a very busy environment with ongoing support in place to support their additional learning needs.”
Jason Brannan, Deputy Director of People at BCUHB, said: “I am delighted to celebrate the interns and their families to recognise the amazing achievement they have all made.
“We want to be an organisation that supports our community, and Project Search has allowed the interns to gain knowledge and skills that prepare them for working life.
“A number of interns are now employees at the health board, and I am looking forward to seeing them continue to grow and develop.”
Agoriad’s Chief Executive Arthur Beechy said: “Agoriad feels proud to be involved with the GLLM P4 Project SEARCH supported internships and to witness the success the interns have had in their quest to gain employment.
“Our thanks go to Jane, Gwen and Rhian of the college and Mandy and Tracey of BCUHB for the support and facilitation roles they have played in enabling the interns to be successful.”
Nationally, the unemployment rate for adults with disabilities/autism is approximately 90 per cent. Project SEARCH supports the development of skills and behaviours that help young adults with learning disabilities or autism into meaningful paid employment.
The evidence shows employment has a positive impact on long-term health and social inclusion.