Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) has joined a supported internship scheme which helps young people with learning disabilities to access support, education and work experience with the end goal of progressing into permanent employment.
GMMH are working with Pure Innovations as a partner on their Greater Manchester Supported Internship programme, to provide a variety of work placements.
The Supported Internship programme is a collaboration between Supported Employment Specialist, Pure Innovations, and a range of partners which either act as ‘Host Employer’ or ‘Educational Provider’. Partners include Elms Bank College, Trafford College, Fairfield Hospital (Northern Care Alliance) and Trafford Hospital (Manchester Foundation Trust).
Through the scheme, individuals are offered opportunities to gain practical work experience in a variety of different roles at their Host Employer, whilst studying for an accredited qualification through the Education Provider in subjects such as Employability Skills and Customer Service.
Individuals are offered up to three different placements over one academic year, to make sure they gain a wide-ranging set of skills and experience. Throughout the process, they are provided with expert support from the Supported Employment Specialist’s Job Coaches and Employment Officers to make sure they settle in and progress well.
Natalie Irvine, Senior Employment Officer at Pure Innovations said:
“It is absolutely vital that we are offering equal opportunities to all young people in our communities. People with learning disabilities have the skills, drive and passion to succeed in a variety of roles, just like their peers.
“Through the supported internship scheme, we match individuals with roles that are right for them, and make sure that any extra support for both the individual and the employer is put in place. It is amazing to watch them go from strength to strength, gaining valuable experience, skills and confidence, whilst adding great value to the workplace.”
This support can include facilitating reasonable role adjustments to accommodate for their disability, or even carving out new, custom roles that meet the needs of both the individual and employer.
Regular one-to-one catch up sessions allow for progress to be closely monitored, and for any issues to be highlighted and resolved quickly, to ensure the whole process goes as smoothly as possible.
Staff disability awareness training is also provided, to adopt an open and inclusive environment and ensure colleagues and teammates understand how best they can communicate and work together with their interns.
Throughout the programme, the Supported Employment Specialist also helps the interns to take the next steps in their employment journey, including taking part in permanent role and salary negotiations with the employer, and offering ongoing coaching.
GMMH has now joined The Greater Manchester Supported Internship scheme, offering a variety of work placements in partnership with the lead providers. So far, six interns have been placed into roles within their Facilities department in areas such as Catering, Administration, Transport & Logistics and Domestic Services; and one has been offered a permanent position.
Joshua joined the scheme after hearing about it in his last year of high school. He said:
“I have autism and I knew that going to a big college with large class groups wouldn’t be best for me. I spoke to my teachers and parents and we agreed an internship would be a great choice, because I would be in smaller groups and be able to get practical experience, which I enjoy.
“I knew I wanted to find a role where I could help people, and where I could be around other people – and in the NHS, I could do just that.
“My first placement was at Fairfield Hospital in Administration, which was lots of fun in a really supportive team. I’m now in a role at GMMH in the Logistics Department, working with the team to deliver post all across the Trust. From the get-go, the team have been so welcoming and supportive. We have a laugh, and if I ever need help, I always feel comfortable speaking up. The extra support from Natalie at Pure Innovations has been so useful too.
“It’s hard to think about the future, and it does take a while to choose which career you’d like to get in to, but these different placements have really helped me understand my options. It’s been such a great experience so far, and a really good way to progress into what I’d call ‘adulthood’.