Project Search looking to expand after successful year

A programme which aims to get young people with learning difficulties and disabilities into work is set to expand following yet another successful year.

Wednesday, 28th December 2016, 4:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:30 pm

Project Search is a collaborative project between East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Sussex Downs College and East Sussex County Council.

Every year Eastbourne’s District General Hospital takes on a group of young interns who rotate around several different departments in the DGH, including post, portering, health records, pathology stores, decontamination and housekeeping.

So far 39 different wards and departments at the DGH have got involved in the scheme.

Janette Willliams, from Project Search, told a recent meeting of the Trust Board that the programme has been a success and organisers were looking to the future.

Ms Williams said: “We are now in our third year and we are looking to expand.”

Many of the students - around 57 percent - go on to find employment at the DGH following their work experience.

Of the 2015/16 intake, five young people were employed by the Trust in roles including portering and working on reception on Michelham Ward.

Outside the Trust, others went on to find employment at Primark in Eastbourne, Wickes in Hailsham and portering at St George’s Hospital in London.

Ms Williams went on to tell the Board about some of the success stories emerging from the class of 2016/17.

Project Search is usually only open to students aged 18-24, but this year’s intake included Sophie, a 17-year-old with cerebral palsy.

The young wheelchair user has been working in the DGH’s radiology department on floor control.

She has started to meet and greet patients and arrange patient transport too.

Ms Williams said: “She would like to become a 999 call handler, so we are trying to get her as much experience in phone answering and customer service.”

Josh, who has mild dyslexia, is working as a porter, transporting patients and equipment around the hospital.

Ms Williams said: “With him, it’s his confidence and self-esteem.”

But Josh has proved a big hit with his team, which has already decided it wants Josh to join the ranks on a full time basis.

Following the presentation, David Clayton-Smith, chairman of the East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust, said: “I think we are the biggest employer in East Sussex and it’s very easy to forget that.

“We would be delighted to encourage other employers.

“The hospital belongs to the residents of East Sussex and if we can continue to provide support and help for the super job that these people do, we would be delighted.”

The team would welcome enquiries from anyone who would like to join the Project Search programme.

Applicants must be aged between 18 and 24 and have an EHCP (Education, Health & Care Plan) either completed or in the process of being written. They must also be able to commit to a full time course between September 2016 and June 2017.

Please call 01323 435 602, or email [email protected]