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Project Search interns smiling to camera in Home Group head office

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Newcastle city centre business helping young people with disabilities into work

Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts, PR and media advisor

A North East company has been providing young people with disabilities in the region meaningful access to employment.

Housing association Home Group is hosting five young adults on internships, which are a combination of classroom-based work readiness skills followed by an industry placement, providing them with valuable skills and insights into employment opportunities.
With the time split between the workplace and classroom learning, the young learners have gained practical experience in key areas of the business including facilities, procurement, and legal departments.

Practical skills have also been a big part of the programme too. Alongside growing confidence, the scheme also helps with day-to-day life skills such as building routines and even navigating how to get to work.

Kate Horsfield, Employability Business Partner at Home Group, who has been running the scheme, said: “It has been brilliant having these learners with us. They are a credit to themselves and so keen to learn.

“It can be difficult for young people with disabilities to get into employment or find what career path they might enjoy. We see this scheme as a great way of opening our doors and supporting these young people to identify and work toward their career goals.

“Alongside supporting their personal growth, they are getting hands-on, practical experiences within key areas of the business which will be very helpful as they pursue careers, either with Home Group or elsewhere.

“As a business too, it has been a brilliant opportunity for us to have these young learners with us. It has helped us consider practical aspects of how we work, the accessibility of our building, and what support we have and need to offer to ensure a comfortable working environment for everyone – all things we view as very important at Home Group.”

The s being ran in partnership with DFN Project Search, a national transition to work programme, and ROC College, part of United Response.

The programme aims to support young adults with a whole range of disabilities, from autism and learning disabilities through to physical disabilities, with their work readiness, employability skills, and gain valuable experience.

Learners outside Home Group's One Strawberry Lane head office

Oscar, one of the young learners, said: “I have had an amazing time on the internship so far. I have enjoyed my tasks and am happy to have had a chance to see what procurement is like.

“Everyone has been welcoming and friendly, and my team have been so approachable, making me feel I can be honest and share any problems.

“My favourite part has been getting to know the team and doing the finance work, because it is a lot of data and an office-based environment, which I have found I really like. It has been a great opportunity for me and I’m grateful to have had a chance to be on the programme.”

Scarlett, another of the learners, added: “I have learned new skills like communicating with others and problem solving. My favourite part of my placement so far was an event which I helped host.

“The internship has helped me to create a routine. It has given me motivation, improved my independence and helped me to think about potential careers for the future.”

Home Group is planning to host another cohort of learners beginning in September, as well as potentially partnering with other employers in the region if interest is particularly high.

An engagement event for parents and learners is being hosted at One Strawberry Lane at 4pm-7pm on March 7th and is an open session for learners, parents, carers, teachers etc. to come and learn about the offer.

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