Changing Futures Together – Coventry launches its first Supported Internship

Representatives from across Coventry gathered at University Hospital earlier this month to launch the city’s first Supported Internship programme.

Supported Internships help young people aged 16 to 24 with learning disabilities to gain first-hand experience of the workplace. This allows them to develop their employment skills and gain a nationally-accredited qualification.

The programme has been developed through a partnership between University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and its partners ISS and Vinci, with Hereward College and The Employment Support Service (TESS), which is part of Coventry City Council’s Employment Team.

The main aim is to help young people into sustainable paid employment. The year-long programme will see interns based at the University Hospital and undertake up to three separate work-based placements. The interns will experience work across different departments and will be supported by UHCW, TESS and Hereward College staff.

Andy Hardy, Chief Executive Officer at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with TESS and Hereward College and it’s a great pleasure to welcome our first Supported Interns to University Hospital. I’m really looking forward to seeing our interns gain experience in a variety of roles over the next 12 months, whether it’s directly supporting patient care on our wards, or in administration, or facilities.

“As one of the largest employers in Coventry we consider it our duty to represent the community we serve. This initiative strengthens the social responsibility we are proud to maintain.”

Councilor Richard Brown, Deputy Cabinet Memberfor Business, Enterprise and Employment at Coventry City Council said: “The Leader of the Council has made it clear that The Employment Support Service must continue – it’s vital in supporting disabled people to develop their skills and crucially to move into sustainable paid employment”

“This new partnership aims to nurture the talent and innovation of young disabled people to unlock their potential, and to support the employer. It is a great privilege to work with the hospital and Hereward College as we launch this exciting new initiative and I am sure it will be successful – a template for others to follow”.

Sheila Fleming, Principal and Chief Executive at Hereward College said: “As a college for young people with disabilities and additional needs, ensuring the best possible opportunities for our learners is at the heart of what we do. We are delighted to be working in partnership with UHCW and TESS to expand our supported internships offered in Coventry. Statistics show that young people with learning disabilities only have a 7% likelihood of finding paid employment and the Supported Internship programme is a significant step towards changing that.”

Photo caption (L-R): Councillor Richard Brown, Hereward College Principal and Chief Executive Sheila Fleming, Supported Interns Amrit Devi, James Stewart, Alexander Fletcher and Leigh Palmer,and UHCW NHS Trust Chief Executive Officer Andy Hardy.