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Posted on 21 July 2021

Project SEARCH interns come out on top at national awards!

Our DFN Project SEARCH interns have won big at this year’s national Spotlight Awards! The interns topped the Community Influence category, recognising partnerships that have a positive influence or impact on the community. Our interns, all of whom live with learning disabilities and/or autism, were honoured for their hard work and collaboration in establishing and managing a dedicated Facebook page; working to break down barriers and encourage community engagement.

Hosted virtually by leading transition to employment charity, DFN Project SEARCH, the Spotlight awards honour the outstanding achievement of interns, graduates, and partners from across the UK. To date, over 1,480 young people have secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK. Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH, said of the nominees “we’ve seen some fantastic achievements for another year running; which is a testament to everyone involved in the DFN Project SEARCH programmes across the country.”

Reflecting on their experiences of marginalisation, our interns wanted to educate people around the skills they bring to the workplace. So, the interns set up their own Facebook page to share stories, successes and provide honest accounts of their journeys.

Continuing to grow in popularity, the page reaches a multitude of people in the local community, addressing issues and common misconceptions surrounding learning difficulties and Autism. By educating, inspiring and empowering prospective interns, the page is also generating greater interest in recruitment.

We deliver Project SEARCH in partnership with Burnley College, Lancashire County Council and HFT. We work to support interns through a work placement at host employer, The Calico Group. As a result, individuals gain the skills needed to maximise their potential and find paid employment in the future.

Lindsey Danson, Service Operations Manager, Calico Enterprise

“We have now delivered the (DFN Project SEARCH) programme since 2018 and are about to enter our fourth year. It has been an amazing journey in which we have learned a lot. 

As an employer, we have also learned a lot from our interns. They have helped us to be even more inclusive and have helped us grow in confidence around supporting people with learning difficulties and Autism. Winning this award is an amazing recognition of all the hard work that the interns, staff and partners put into making sure that we deliver meaningful work placements that allow our interns to progress into long term work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has supported us along this journey so far.”

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