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Siddeqa and Sophie together and smiling

During learning disability week Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating the success stories of its internship programme for students with learning disabilities.

Siddeqa Din from Keighley, is a graduate of the internship programme at Keighley College and now has a permanent job at the hospital, working 12 hours a week in the Therapies administration team.

A supported internship is a type of study programme for young people aged 16–24 that have an Education, Health and Care Plan. The internship lasts for between six months and a year and is flexible to suit the young person and the employer. The students spend two days at work and have a job coach who liaises with staff, students and their parents and college and carries out regular reviews on their progress.

The internship increases the students’ confidence and help them gain fantastic people skills and experience.

Izzy Allsopp, Therapies Manager at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:

“When they first come we ask our interns about their aspirations, their long term career goals, their hobbies, what they like doing best and then we align their workplace experience around that.”

“This scheme really gives an invaluable opportunity for young people to learn workability skills and to develop, and we get a huge sense of pride in watching them grow in ability and confidence. The interns are a pleasure to have as part of our teams, their commitment, energy and enthusiasm is fantastic.”

Izzy continues:

“As one of the biggest local employers we are socially responsible to help shape the opportunities available to under-represented people in our community.  It also helps us to challenge perspective and ensure we’re building diversity and really demonstrating our commitment to developing an inclusive and representative workforce.”

27 year old Siddeqa from Keighley started on the programme in 2019 and now works in the therapy administration team and has also helped with the Pride of Airedale awards event.  She was herself nominated trainee of the year at the awards.

Siddeqa says:

“When I first started I was a bit nervous but excited to learn new skills and get experience of what it’s like to work in a working environment. I love learning new skills and meeting new people.  I love my Airedale family.”

Siddeqa also has advice for any new interns:

“Take your job slow and don’t rush too much.  If you’re stuck, you need to ask someone and learn.  When I first started I asked people for help; they are all very nice people.”

Sophie Jolly is one of the current interns on the programme who also has an administration placement with the therapies team.  She is due to graduate from the scheme next month after 9 months.

Sophie says:

“I think that it’s gone really well and I think that I’ve grown as a person and I’ve grown in confidence and I’m now able to apply for jobs.  The best bit about it is being able to help others and we just have a nice time.”

Francis Day, Job Coach at Keighley College says:

“Once they’ve been on the internship our students are completely different.  Their employability skills are up there, they communicate well, they interact much more because we have an understanding of the support they need to bring out the best in them.  To see them where they start to where they are at the end, it makes you very proud.”

The interns and Keighley College have also created a video to share their experiences of working at Airedale and other local employers like Acorn stairlifts, to promote the programme to other local employers.

Emma Rich, Support Manager, Keighley College explains more about who could offer an internship:

“A suitable employer can be anyone who’s open to the idea of having young people with learning difficulties and disabilities in their organisation, they might just need support and training to make any adjustments for their interns.”

“Most employers might think that this costs them money but it’s a free service, the students work for 2 or 3 days a week and bring with them a job coach which is also free.  The added bonus of this internship is that support is there, both for the young person but also for the employer.”

For more information on the programme contact Emma Rich on 01535 685095 or email emma.rich@keighleycollege.ac.uk