First Project SEARCH cohort graduate

Young people with additional support needs in the Falkirk area who are on the hunt to find a job with the help of DFN Project SEARCH – have graduated from their one year internship programme at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

A partnership between Forth Valley College, Falkirk Council Employment and Training Unit, SERCO, NHS Forth Valley and Skills Development Scotland – David Forbes Nixon (DFN) Project SEARCH supports young people with learning difficulties to gain skills and experience aimed at helping them move into sustainable employment. The DFN Charitable Foundation, is a UK registered charity established in 2014 by David Forbes Nixon with the express aim of promoting programmes such as this one.

Based at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, the first group of 11 young interns aged between 18-24, began their course on Monday 27 August 2018 and a total of 10 graduated on Monday 10 June 2019.

And there was more good news when it was revealed at the graduation ceremony that one of the interns has secured a full-time job with SERCO and seven others have landed further paid internships, mainly with schools across the Falkirk Council area.

Throughout their year the interns have had experience in work placements across a range of job areas, all based within the hospital, from Monday to Friday 9am-4pm. These included: housekeeping; domestic wards; catering, stores, portering and mail room. The interns have also completed food hygiene and manual handling certificates.

On-site, interns were assisted throughout by a college lecturer and a job coach – Alan Ritchie and Jean Allan – as well as hospital staff and supervisors. The programme helps interns to learn real job skills that will prepare them for work by rotating them through a variety of different work placement experiences. This work-based learning was then supported by classroom activities each day, as well as regular discussion and feedback from supervisors throughout the programme.

One of the graduates, Stephen Quigley (27) from Grangemouth, who has now secured a job with SERCO, said: “DFN Project SEARCH has helped me get something I never, ever thought I would get… a job! I feel very proud of what I have achieved and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”
Charlotte Laidlaw (18) from Falkirk, said: “What I have learned is how to do a professional job correctly. The best thing I got out of it was the boost to my confidence. During the course I have learned more than I thought I could do. Overall it has been a great thing to do.”

Jacqueline McArthur, Director of Curriculum for the Department of Business and Communities, said: “We are delighted to see the first cohort of Project SEARCH interns complete their year here at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and graduate from the programme. They have been a credit to themselves, the college, the hospital and all the partners who are represented at this event, and we wish them well as they progress towards finding employment armed with skills and experience gained from Project SEARCH.”

Linda Donaldson, HR Director, NHS Forth Valley said “NHS Forth Valley has been delighted to be involved with the first Project SEARCH interns based within Forth Valley Royal Hospital. We received lots of positive feedback from our staff who have met the interns during their time with us and we wish them all the very best for the future.”

Tony McLaughlin, Regional Director Scotland, Serco said “It has been a privilege to have been part of the first Project Search at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. We have enjoyed having the interns work alongside us and feel incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be part of the programme. Not only have we seen the confidence grow in the interns we have also seen the positive impact this has had on our staff who act as buddies. We wish all the interns the best of luck for the future.”

Funding has been secured for Project SEARCH for another year and anyone wishing to find out more on the course which will start again in August 2019 should contact Forth Valley College on 01324 403000.