Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are the latest host employers for the DFN Project SEARCH, which is a new supported internship programme in Lambeth to give young people with learning disabilities and autism in the area vital work experience to help them to secure meaningful employment.

Seven young adults have joined the programme for the first year with the interns going on to complete three 10-week work experience placements within Kings College Hospital.

Compared to the general population, young people with a learning disability are less likely to be in full time paid employment with nationally only 5.9% of people with special educational needs and disabilities gaining permanent paid employment in the UK.

DFN Project SEARCH works to build a more inclusive society by helping young people with learning disabilities and autism to access high quality work-related learning through immersive supported internships leading to a much-improved opportunity to access long-term, full time paid employment.

The charity has ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning disabilities and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade and 20,000 in the next 15 years.

Interns are provided with tasks that match their individual interests and skills

DFN Project SEARCH Programme Specialist, Emma Lord, said: “It is really exciting to be working with King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for our new DFN Project SEARCH programme in Lambeth. There are so many skills and opportunities for the young people to learn inside such a diverse and inclusive workplace.

"The commitment to change the life chances of young people with learning disabilities and autism in the area is shared by all the partners in this great programme and we are really looking forward to welcoming the interns.” 

This is the first time King’s is piloting the programme. The Trust is working with specialist education providers to ensure the interns are provided with tasks that match their individual interests and skills.

Professor Clive Kay, Chief Executive at King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, who welcomed the new interns, said: “We’re excited for our young interns to be joining Team King’s and I look forward to watching their confidence grow in their new roles.

“Entering the workplace can feel like a daunting prospect for many young people. For our interns, we are putting in place extra support including access to a mentor and on-site job coach, who will work alongside them in their new roles.”