Seven people from Flintshire have successfully graduated from DFN Project SEARCH, an employment initiative that works to equip people with learning disabilities with everything they need to secure their first jobs.
The Flintshire-based branch of the scheme, which operates across the UK, sees Hft join forces with Flintshire County Council, ClwydAlyn Housing, and Coleg Cambria to offer work placements and employability coaching – designed to help interns develop new skills, boost confidence and cover any training needs.
DFN Project SEARCH offers a selection of work placements, which are combined with classroom sessions where Hft employability coaches provide person-centred advice and support to guide people with learning disabilities through every step of their journey to employment.
From catering to administration, this year’s interns in Flintshire have spent the year exploring a range of options to discover the best career path for them. Scroll down to meet three of our interns and find out more…
Owen began his time at DFN Project SEARCH with a placement at a leisure centre, where he took on some caretaking responsibilities, as well as assisting fitness instructors with their work in the gym. While he enjoyed his first placement, it was during his second rotation at Flintshire County Council that Owen really came into his own! During his time at the council offices, Owen took on a range of duties, including data inputting and photocopying, and was able to develop his customer service skills. Colleagues were consistently impressed by his worth ethic and his ability to turn his hand to any task given to him.
Owen’s work during his placement was so impressive that, since graduating from the programme, he’s been offered full-time paid employment – which he was delighted to accept! Owen now works 37 hours a week at a council-run warehouse distributing PPE.
He said: “I really enjoyed DFN Project SEARCH, it helped me decide what I wanted to do and I made lots of new friends. I’m really proud of myself for getting this job. I’m really enjoying it. I am now more independent because I have learnt to catch the bus to work. Being paid means that I can treat myself, and my family. I am learning to spend my money wisely.”
At the start of her journey into employment, Letitia was very shy and struggled with low self-confidence, finding making eye contact and speaking up in front of others difficult. With her employability coaches on hand to work with her on her communication skills, Letitia’s confidence has blossomed!
Beginning her year at DFN Project SEARCH with a stint in Children’s Services at her local council, Letitia immediately mastered a range of office skills while also working on reception, where she greeted members of the public and assisted with their enquiries. In her role as Activities Assistant at her second placement in an elderly care service, Letitia found the job she wanted to pursue. From leading activities to administrative tasks, Letitia quickly became an invaluable member of the team there and has since been offered a paid position, which she’ll be starting in October.
Letitia said: “I feel I have really achieved something with my communication. I now have good eye contact with people and speak loudly and clearly. I am extremely excited, although a little nervous to start my job during the pandemic. I can’t wait to see everyone again and do all the jobs I was doing before. It will keep me busy and give me purpose – I’m looking forward to saving for a holiday and treating myself.”
During his time on the programme, Lewis completed two placements, ensuring he made the most of the opportunities available. Following a very successful year, he now has work experience at a café within a leisure centre and kitchen at a care home under his belt.
Although a speech impediment means communication can be challenging for Lewis, with some coaching he was able to overcome this and build great relationships with everyone he worked alongside. Renowned for being a hard worker, Lewis has picked up a range of valuable transferrable skills from the programme, including food preparation, running effective stock rotations, and customer service skills. To boost his CV, he’s also made the most of the lockdown period by successfully completing remote Level 1 and 2 Food Hygiene courses, as well as an emergency first aid course.
Lewis’s Hft employability coaches are now supporting him to find his first paid role, while he continues to volunteer and build on his skills.
To find out more about supported employment at Hft, visit: www.hft.org.uk/our-services/empowering-individuals/