College scheme to help students with disabilities into work

A national scheme to support students with an educational health care plan into jobs is being rolled out in Barrow by Furness College.

The college has developed a new supported internship programme in partnership with University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), Cumbria County Council and the charity DFN Project Search.

From September 2022, it will provide college leavers aged 18-24 with a path to paid employment in the Trust’s Furness General Hospital.
There will be 10-12 placements available in key worker roles including administration, portering, catering, domestic services and ancillaries on the wards.

The college’s Assistant Principal for Curriculum Sue Hannan said Project SEARCH is a unique college-to-work transition programme for students with disabilities.

“We are excited to work with our partners on this, which is the first scheme of its kind in Cumbria and the first for NHS England in the North-West,” she said.

“We are passionate about providing young people with special educational needs across Furness with the right to paid employment and career opportunities where they can make a significant contribution to their communities and to help them progress.”

The placement will be five days a week from 9am to 4pm and the interns will work with a college tutor for the first hour of each day before learning and practising essential skills in the hospital environment, supported by a job coach. They will also continue to develop literacy and numeracy skills that are required in the workplace and can work in three different areas across the academic year.

“Similar initiatives have led to a 70 per cent success rate for the intern gaining paid employment after the academic year,” said Sue. “We think this new curriculum offer will meet the needs of local young people with EHCPs who find there are limited opportunities for paid employment following education. It will build on the college’s successful Skills for Working Life programme and increase progression opportunities for young people with learning differences and disability.”

David Wilkinson, UHMBT’s Director of People & OD, said: “UHMBT is delighted to be involved with Project Search as part of our commitment to widening participation through access to work and improving the employability of people with disabilities within our local communities.

“The Trust believes that giving its full support to programmes such as Project Search will make a positive difference in reducing disability inequality, which is a key strand in our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion approach.”

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said: “We are very proud to be launching our programme here in Furness with UMBHT at Furness General Hospital with our amazing partners at Furness College and Cumbria County Council. We are delighted that our first cohort of interns will start on their DFN Project SEARCH journey to obtain valuable work experience that will help transform their lives.

“We can’t wait to see the fantastic work they will be doing here and will have the opportunity to demonstrate how young people with autism and learning disabilities, when given the right support, can truly thrive and make a huge contribution to society.”

Sally Senejko, Senior Manager for SEND and Inclusion at Cumbria County Council, said: “This is a really exciting project that we’re delighted to support. Young people with additional support needs have so much to offer, but sometimes need a little extra help to get into the workplace and find a role that suits them. The support that’s on offer through this programme will make a huge difference and we’re excited to see the progress these young people will make.”

Furness College will hold an open event at the Channelside campus on 17th January from 2pm-4pm for people to find out more about supported internships. Further details are on the website

https://www.furness.ac.uk/supported-internships/ or more information contact internships@furness.ac.uk


Student Bailey Harding says he will be applying for the scheme after he completes his studies in sociology and health and social care at Barrow Sixth Form College.

“When I was younger, the doctor said to my mum that I will never be able to walk. However by coming to college I have gained valuable independence skills and I feel I have the determination to overcome most obstacles in my life.

“I hope to be a clinical psychologist and work in the health care sector,” he said. “I feel like it matches a lot of my personal qualities because I feel like I can be empathetic towards people and give them the best solutions to their problems and I also study health and social care so I know all the latest practices.

“Barriers to employment for people like me are my hearing and my eyesight because an employer may look at me and assume I am not good at taking instructions and my eyesight makes it difficult. I feel like I am treated differently due to my disability. People may assume I can’t do things where I actually can. I want people to be aware of this but not treat me differently.

“It’s my fifth year at college and I am slowly working my way up and it took me a while to pass my maths but I didn’t give up and now I have got my maths qualifications. I got a distinction in media and I am progressing well in health and social care.

“I feel like this will be the best move forward and I am really thankful to my support team at college for recommending this to me – this is a part of my dream and my next steps.”

Bailey has supported his studies undertaking voluntary work for Cancer Research in their shop and also boosted his skills by taking part in the National Citizen Scheme (NCS).

LA14 2PJ
Rating Lane
LA13 9LE
Contact Us Tel: 01229 825 017 (Channelside Campus)
Tel: 01229 828 377 (Barrow Sixth Form College)
Email: info@furness.ac.uk
Business Support Tel: 01229 844 836
Email: businesssupport@furness.ac.uk
Of Course You Can!