Eight interns with learning disabilities have graduated with Diplomas in Progression following 9 months of intensive work-based training at a Plymouth hospital.

The interns have been working in Derriford Hospital in the city on honorary contracts while developing and learning new work skills as part of Project SEARCH, which aims to help interns to gain mainstream paid employment and develop their independence.

Overcoming struggles
Richard Crompton, chairman of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, presented the certificates to the interns at a ceremony on June 25.

“There are three things which are immediately apparent about these graduates and the wider Project SEARCH,” Crompton said. “Firstly is how hard all the interns have worked during their placements, overcoming struggles and hurdles to complete their courses.

“The second is that this is not a one-way opportunity, the interns have been given an opportunity but what we receive in exchange is their commitment, their work ethic and how they inspire so many people across the Trust.

“Thirdly, it is apparent just how important this project is, not just here at Derriford Hospital but further afield. Seeing this grow into other organisations is truly fantastic and I’m pleased that we are able to give our commitment to the project here and in helping to support it as it spreads.”

Incredible journey
During the presentation the audience heard from former Project SEARCH graduate Nathan Stocker who said: “After leaving Project SEARCH last year I could feel how much I had grown and what it was like to be part of a team.”

Pip Critten, Pluss employment advisor on Project SEARCH, said: “Each of the interns have been on an incredible journey putting in an immense amount of effort to prove that they will make ideal employees with all the ethics that employers are looking for.”