Project SEARCH: Class of 2021 Graduate

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19th Jul 2021

Last Friday, a special ceremony was held to celebrate the graduation of this year’s Project SEARCH interns.

Hosted by Barts NHS Trust, the graduation ceremony celebrated the achievements of the 12 young people with additional needs who have participated in the year-long supported internship programme.  Throughout the year, the interns participated in three different placements at Whipps Cross Hospital.  Working as full members of their departments, the interns carried out a wide range of roles including as hospital porters, administrators and Ward Hosts.  Many of the interns worked in the GP X Ray Department helping to reassure patients and prepare them for their X rays whilst others worked in wards taking patients’ lunch orders and delivering their food to them.


In addition to this, the interns participated in comprehensive employability skills training.  This included courses on CV writing, job searching and interview preparation.  The project, which is run in partnership with DFN International, seeks to prepare young people with additional needs for full time, meaningful employment.  Five of the interns have already secured full time jobs.

The Project has run all year – despite the challenges of Covid – with the interns working from home during the Lockdown periods. 

Friday’s graduation was attended by senior leaders from each of the Project’s partners including Alan Gurney, Managing Director of Whipps Cross Hospital, Dame Alwen Williams, Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust and Kirstie Fulthorpe, Chief Executive of Whitefield Academy Trust.  They each spoke about the importance of the Project for both the interns and the hospital.

But the highlight of the afternoon was the interns who spoke to the guests about the transformative impact the Project has had on their lives.  Addressing the guests, Nishat Islam said:

“Project SEARCH has been a fantastic experience for me.  I have really enjoyed feeling a part of the hospital team and I have learnt so many new skills over the past year.  The support from the hospital and my job coaches has been brilliant and I feel confident about applying for jobs now.”

Kirstie Fulthorpe, Chief Executive of Whitefield Academy Trust, which runs the Project, said:

“All of the young people graduating today should feel immensely proud of themselves.  Entering the workplace can be a very daunting experience but to work in a busy hospital during the Covid peaks is highly commendable.  All the interns rose to the challenge and made themselves indispensable to their teams.  They have each developed a strong set of employability skills that will enable them to secure full time, meaningful employment.  I am thrilled that five have already secured jobs which will allow them to lead independent adult lives.

“We are hugely grateful to our partners at Whipps Cross Hospital, DFN International, Kaleidoscope, and Barts NHS Trust.  During such an uncertain and disruptive year, our interns have greatly benefitted from the routines and focus of the Project and I would like to thank all our partners for their commitment and support.  We look forward to developing the Project further in order to provide a transformative experience for young people for many years to come.”