Magnificent seven complete Supported Internship programme

Seven young people with special educational needs (SEND) have proved that disabilities don’t have to get in the way of gaining employment after graduating from a flagship internship programme.

Run in partnership between St Helens Council and St Helens College, the Supported Internship initiative has been established to encourage local employers to support young people aged 16-25 from the St Helens Borough by providing a work placement for four days a week for seven months – with one day spent at Peter Street Community Centre working to improve on their maths and English.

Of the seven placements – held in a number of settings, from hospitals to cafes – three were held within the council which saw two young men working with the bereavement services team – while the music service received help from 23-year-old Sophie Dowdle, who was tasked with helping out with the choir, preparing marketing materials and updating a musical equipment data base.

A celebration event was held at St Helens College where the interns were awarded a certificate from St Helens Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Developing Young People, Councillor Sue Murphy.

Twenty-year-old Ryan Hooson from Moss Bank is a shining example of how successful the programme has been in its first year.

Having previously never worked, car enthusiast Ryan impressed his employer, Peasley Cross Lane-based Superfast Autoglazing, so much that he has secured himself a full-time job as a windscreen technician.

“I never thought of doing a course like this,” he said. “It was a last minute offer and I took it up thinking ‘I may as well – what have I got to lose?’

“I wasn’t doing anything before the course; sat around doing nothing – that’s why I gave it a go and it was definitely worth it. It’s good to go out on jobs and meet new people, which has made me grow in confidence.”

The overall aim of the Supported Internship is to act as the final step needed for people with special educational needs and/or disability – who have an education, health and care plan in place – to be ‘work ready.’

The vast majority of interns from last year have gone on to be offered employment – and another ten have been selected to start the next programme in September 2019.

Congratulating the group, Councillor Sue Murphy, said: “Meeting this group of inspirational young people and hearing how being a part of the flagship Supported Internship programme has brought so much confidence and self-belief out of them is a great honour, and I’m extremely proud of every one of them.

“The Supported Internship programme is a fantastic initiative, designed to transform the lives of some of our young people who need that extra support, and I’m delighted that it will help even more young people develop the necessary skills to live an independent life, this September.”

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