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Do you see me? Will you work with me?

In celebration of it being Mencap’s Learning Disability Week and the diverse nature of our workforce, we’d like to showcase Dan James our first Supported Intern who works in the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) team in North Somerset Council.

What’s a supported internship?
It is for 16-24 year olds with special educational needs and disabilities to gain experience, develop skills and help them move into sustainable paid employment.

What new skills has Dan learnt on his internship?

Dan feels his communication skills have developed and he has more confidence.

His ability to pull-out key pieces of information has grown since attending a weekly panel and recording decisions.

Dan has a natural aptitude to retain information and the amount he has retained since learning his new role has been fantastic. This meant he learns from his experiences.

What has Dan enjoyed doing?

One of his biggest achievements is inputting new cases onto the SEND portal. This involves contacting parents via email. He has learnt the process quickly and feels very comfortable with carrying out this task.

Dan has become an independent worker. He has successfully worked in the office without support on a few occasions and worked from home.  

How have the team supported and made adjustments for Dan?

Dan feels that the team have supported him by:

  • showing him how things are done so that he can memorise the instructions and given him written instructions which he then adapts to suit him
  • arranged break times to have a routine that works for him
  • Dan had a fixed desk following a short period of hot desking so he knows where he will be when in the office
  • when working from home, the team make regular agreed check ins and ensure that Dan knows who to contact if he needs help.

In the early days, Dan’s Job Coach was very supportive and added value to the role by enabling the team to discover what adjustments might need to be made.  

What are the benefits for the team of a supported intern?

Dan’s manager, Dawn Hedges, says:

“Dan is a valued member of the team and is a wonderful example of how a Supported Internship can be successful. Dan carries out meaningful work which has helped with relieving some pressure from a very busy team.”
“I felt extremely proud of Dan when he went back to visit his old school to talk about his experiences with the Supported Internship programme. He hoped to inspire others to reach their full potential and fulfil their ambitions.”

Supported internships are also:

  1. Free
  2. Supported by a Job Coach who often works for an education provider. They help them onsite or virtually, as needed. The Job Coach will also work with your business to advise and support you.
  3. Internships last for up to 12 months and will be reviewed every 4-6 weeks to ensure the internship is meeting the needs of the intern and the business.
  4. Interns are usually available 2 – 3 days per week.

We do not provide interns to host or facilitate internships for local businesses, but if you would like an informal chat about our experiences of hosting a supported intern then please contact: Louisa Jacobs,  Employer of Choice Project Co-ordinator

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