Project SEARCH is a unique partnership which supports young people with learning disabilities as they transition from education into the world of employment. The programme sees the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading College, Brookfield’s SEN school and Ways into Work CIC, working together to enhance and enable opportunities for young people with learning disabilities to move into work.
Throughout the year the students worked in different departments to acquire new skills, build on existing ones and become fully immersed within the teams they worked with. There were a number of work placements available to the students including with A&E, care crew, elderly care, Marks and Spencer’s, Battle Day Unit, portering services and catering to name a few.
We were one of the first trusts in the country to take part in Project Search and now in its seventh year, our graduates have had a 75% success rate in securing employment after graduating, compared to the usual 8% for young people with special needs outside of the programme.
We’re pleased to report that three of this year’s graduates have accepted roles at RBH. Throughout its duration 27 Project SEARCH graduates have secured full and part- time paid roles at the Trust across a number of departments including the mattress library, endoscopy, catering and portering services. Additionally, nine of our graduates have secured paid roles with employers outside the NHS.
At a recent catch up with Steve McManus the Trust’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the students shared that they felt they had really grown in confidence, self-esteem and independence due to the opportunities they have been given and the fantastic support from their mentors and teams.
Trust CEO Steve McManus said “Project SEARCH students are a hugely important and integral part of our staff community. It’s great to be able to offer training, development and future employment opportunities to our local community’s young people with learning disabilities.
This year’s graduation was very kindly hosted by the team at Novotel Reading, who provided a great venue and wonderful refreshments to make it a day to remember for all involved. A big thank you to the General Manager, Anne Dubruille, and her amazing team, for all their help and support.