#DisabilityWorks: opportunity knocks for students

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the hospital dining rooms

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the hospital dining rooms

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One of the region’s largest employers is backing a new Sheffield College initiative to help young people with learning difficulties and disabilities get in to the world of work.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support:Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the latest employer to sign up to the college’s supported internship scheme, which provides students with the opportunity to gain work placements and develop employability skills.

Six students, aged 16 to 24, have just started nine-month placements at the Royal Hallamshire and Northern General, in the administration, catering, laundry, domestics and supplies departments, to develop their employability skills.

They are also receiving mentoring from a Sheffield College job coach.

Heather Smith, principal, The Sheffield College, said: “Students with learning difficulties and disabilities can face barriers to employment.

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the dining rooms

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the dining rooms

“Our recently launched supported internship programme helps them to overcome those challenges so students gain the personal, communication and work skills to succeed. We are delighted that such a large regional employer is supporting our scheme, which will help to transform lives and enhance our students’ long term employment prospects.”

Linda Crofts, head of learning and development, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, adds: “We are pleased to be working with the College to provide these opportunities for young people to gain important experience in the world of work.

“They are performing valuable roles in their areas and we hope the experience should stand them in good stead to gain employment in the future.”

Students on the scheme include David Clay, aged 19, who is based in the dining rooms at the Northern General.

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the dining rooms

Jeff Swallow, catering manager, Northern General Hospital, with David Clay, 19, who is on work experience in the dining rooms

He said: “Everything has been set up properly, and is well organised. It has given me an insight into working in a hospital environment. I couldn’t have set up this work experience opportunity myself so, if it hadn’t happened, I would have ended up sitting at home not doing much.”

He added: “In the long term, I’d like to have a paid job and the sort of work where I am out and about, such as deliveries or working in a warehouse with stock checking and rotation, because I have an organised mind.”

David’s placement is overseen by Jeff Swallow, catering manager, and Tracy Winder, assistant food services manager, both at the Northern General Hospital.

Jeff said: “We wanted to support this initiative as a department and were delighted about the response from staff who volunteered to work with the interns.

“Staff in the catering department have shown their support and encouragement of each other and their willingness to engage with the initiative. 

“David is a polite, happy young man who is keen to learn and can communicate well with colleagues, patients and visitors. He has worked beyond our expectations and gained confidence in his own ability through the placement.”

More regional employers are expected to sign up to the scheme, which started earlier this year. All of the young people have completed the College’s foundation learning programme which helps students, who have few or no academic qualifications, to improve their maths and English as well as work and life skills, with the opportunity to progress and move up to the next level course.

The College has a strong reputation for supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and for its work experience provision in general.

Around 4,000 students are set to complete placements this academic year. The College is the first organisation in Sheffield to be awarded the highest level of accreditation for its work experience provision for students.

The gold level Work Experience Quality Standard, from national charity Fair Train, provides external quality assurance for high quality work experience that develops learners’ employability skills.

For more information, visit http://www.sheffcol.ac.uk or call 0114 2602600. Follow us on Twitter and Linkedin.

The #DisabilityWorks campaign aims to show the benefits of employing disabled talent, for tailored recruitment support:Click this link Or call 0114 2760039.

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