SENDsational: Supported internship is helping Chloe prepare for employment

Chloe, who is on a supported internship at The Bridge Project in Sudbury, with project manager Jo Se

Chloe, who is on a supported internship at The Bridge Project in Sudbury, with project manager Jo Searle, right. - Credit: Archant

A new Equality and Human Rights Commission report calls for more support for people with disabilities.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said that the report, titled Being Disabled in Britain: A Journey Less Equal, should be regarded as a “call to arms”.

He said: “We cannot ignore that disabled people are being left behind and that some people – in particular those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities – experience even greater barriers.”

In Suffolk, the county council, in partnership with local colleges and training providers, is running the SENDsational campaign to find high quality workplace opportunities for some of these young people.

The authority says there are around 5,000 16- to 24-year olds in Suffolk with some form of special educational need or disability (SEND) – and that the “overwhelming majority” of these are capable of sustainable paid employment with the right preparation and support, and are keen to do so.

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Chloe, 20 from Sudbury, joined the Supported Internship Programme at West Suffolk College in September 2016 after successfully completing a college preparation for work course the previous year.

A supported internship gives Chloe a chance to work and study with support from a job coach in the workplace for as long as she needs. The college worked closely with Chloe to assess her strengths, skills, needs, concerns, barriers and most importantly her aspirations. Chloe had completed previous work experience in a café environment and knew that this was the type of work that she wanted to do.

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Chloe is currently working at The Bridge Project in Sudbury where she is learning a whole range of new skills, including working as part of a team.

Since joining the programme Chloe has learnt how to safely prepare food, peel vegetables, cut fruit, create basic dishes, food hygiene and cleaning procedures, customer service and all other aspects of working in a busy kitchen. Chloe confidence has improved significantly and by the end of the programme the aim is to help her to progress into paid employment.

“We are happy to be involved in a scheme that provides genuine opportunities to develop real skills for jobs,” said Jo Searle, manager at The Bridge Project.

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