Royal Borough of Greenwich launches new internship programme for young people with SEND

Wednesday 19 October 2022

A new programme has been launched in Royal Greenwich to help young people with learning disabilities and autism take their first steps into employment.

Through our Supported Internships scheme, we’re funding a year-long programme to help students with an Education, Health and Care Plan get a foot on the working ladder. 

Partnering with Berkeley Homes, DFN Project Search, Shooters Hill College and Unity Works the programme, which started on September 5, will help young people aged 18 to 24 get vital experience in the workplace, helping them build confidence and learn new skills. 

The unique programme has already helped eight interns into placements with Berkeley, with more roles opening in the coming weeks between Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Newhaven School.

The interns will gain experience in office positions with Berkeley and other businesses at the Royal Arsenal Riverside.  Box Cleaning is offering hands-on roles maintaining the development and interns will help property management company Rendall & Rittner in their customer service team.

Each of the interns are supported by a job coach from Unity Works, as well as a tutor from Shooters Hill College.

In previous schemes run by DFN Project SEARCH, students have achieved a 60% employment rate for jobs with over 16 hours of work per week, in an integrated setting.

Councillor Matt Morrow, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Young people with learning difficulties are often excluded despite offering so much. We want to show employers that there is a generation of hard-working and capable young people ready to hit the ground running in Royal Greenwich. 

“Supported Internships provide real, meaningful work and experience to young people and give them a great platform to gain full-time employment further down the line.

“I’m grateful to Berkeley Homes and Queen Elizabeth Hospital for investing in young people and giving them the opportunity to grow and learn, while making a positive contribution to their local community.”

Karl Whiteman, Divisional Managing Director for Berkeley East Thames, said: “At Berkeley, we’re always keen to invest in our community and provide opportunities for local people. I am pleased that we’ve been able to organise this programme and give local young people the experience and skills that can only come from the working world. We are looking forward to mentoring these interns over the coming year at Royal Arsenal Riverside and grateful to the Royal Borough of Greenwich for asking us to be partners in the project. It was great to meet our students and I wish them all the very best with the course."

Emma Lord, London & South East England Programme Specialist at DFN Project SEARCH, commented: “We are delighted to be working in such a great partnership to launch this new DFN Project SEARCH supported Internship programme. This is an exciting opportunity for these young adults in Greenwich to learn competitive and meaningful skills within Berkeley, who have embraced the opportunity to support this diverse talent pool towards their goal of full-time, meaningful, and competitive paid employment with the fantastic support of the whole partnership.”

Supported Internships will last for about a year, with the opportunity for three different placements on rotation. To find out more contact 0208 921 5974.