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Award-winning Bradford project strikes gold!

Published: Tue 5 Jul 2016

A scheme to help Bradford students with learning difficulties find employment has collected a national award.

Project SEARCH, which is based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, helps students develop their skills by finding them work experience placements, as well as through classroom teaching.

Now in its third year at the Foundation Trust, the scheme was presented with an award after achieving a 66.7 per cent success rate last year when six out of its nine interns went on to secure employment after completing the programme.

The Foundation Trust’s Head of Equality and Diversity, Lorraine Cameron, along with co-ordinators, Ali Sholi and Bryony Dolby travelled to Bath last week to attend the national Project Search conference.

They were accompanied by the programme’s partners Southfield Special School in Little Horton, the national learning disability charity Hft, and Bradford District Council, as well as representatives Puddle Digital and the University of Bradford who, along with other local companies, are members of the project’s business advisory committee who support interns with work experience placements.

Ms Cameron, who has acted as the Business Liaison Advisor since Project SEARCH’s inception in Bradford three years ago, said: “I am incredibly proud of the project and our students. In our first year, 40% of interns gained a job – that was good, but it wasn’t good enough because we want everyone to be successful in getting a job at the end of our programme. 

“It’s great to see the Bradford business community supporting our interns and helping them gain employment.

“This award demonstrates the progress we have made with Project SEARCH and our Business Advisory Committee during our second year, when interns secured jobs at the likes of the University of Bradford and the Midland Hotel. With local businesses help, all interns who graduated last year and wanted a job, got a job, which is just fantastic.”

Hft’s Regional Manager for Bradford and Bolton, Andrew Horner, added: “Hft is extremely proud to be part of Bradford Project SEARCH which is achieving such fantastic outcomes for the young adults who we support. This award recognises the amazing partnership working in Bradford which makes this initiative so successful.”

Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Joanne Marshall, said: “The University of Bradford is extremely proud to be working in partnership with the Project Search team over the past 18 months, which has resulted in the creation of a number of placements and jobs for Project SEARCH interns at the University of Bradford.

“We have a shared belief in the Project SEARCH approach, with leadership from the top in both organisations supporting the opportunity to create the right environment to maximise the potential of young people with learning disabilities in the employment setting. This award is a credit to all those involved from the different organisations. The project is a leading example of best practice in the recruitment of employees with learning disabilities within large employers working together to maximise the opportunities and break down barriers.”

Puddle Digital founder and managing director, Steven Burles, stated: "I am delighted that  Project Search Bradford has won this award. From speaking to other groups from across the UK at the recent European Conference, it does seem that Bradford is leading the way in terms of innovation and making year on year progress with their students.

“I feel, in the months, to come that many more groups will be communicating with the Bradford team and using them as a benchmark for the future."

Throughout their involvement in the project, instead of attending school, students spend their final year of education based at BRI on work experience internships. They have an opportunity to try out three different roles, each of which runs for ten weeks.

On July 12 the third intake of Project SEARCH interns will graduate from Project SEARCH at a ceremony in the Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Sovereign Lecture Theatre.

Next year, the city will also have the honour of hosting the Project SEARCH national conference which will take place at the University of Bradford from June 22-23.

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