/* */

DFN Project SEARCH takes 70 young adults to Parliament for National Supported Internship Day, meeting Speaker of the House and Chair of Disability APPG

70 young people with learning disability and/or autism visited Parliament for a special workshop to meet policymakers and speak about the contribution they want to make to the country’s workforce. During their visit, young people were able to meet the Speaker of the House Lynsay Hoyle MP and Chair of Disability APPG Lisa Cameron MP. The event was part of the National Supported Internship Day (NSID) celebrations which also saw over 100 supported internship programs across the country and thousands of young people with SEND taking part in the national day of action.

Launched last year NSID2024 is a joint initiative with partners of the Internships Work Consortium, the British Association for Supported Employment and the National Development Team for Inclusion and showcases the tremendous contribution that young adults with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) can make to the workforce. The Day is part of our wider #InclusionRevolution campaign launched last year to encourage UK businesses to recognise the social and economic value of employing young adults with SEND, aiming to support 14,000 young people into work by 2030.

Supported internships – work-based study programmes for 16 to 24-year-olds with SEND, who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan – dramatically change the employment outcomes for those who take part. DFN Project SEARCH figures show that 70% of people who complete their supported internships go on to secure full-time employment, thanks to the skills and confidence they gain during the programme.

Kaitlin, who is an intern with Calico Group Burnley and was part of the DFN Project SEARCH Youth Advisory Group visiting Parliament to speak about NSID, said: “I am incredibly excited to go and visit Parliament. I got to meet my local MP earlier and find out more about what it means to be a Member of Parliament – now I want to see the place where they work. I take my role on the Youth Advisory Group seriously because I want to be a good advocate for my peers and tell the world about what great employees people with learning disabilities can make. It is my first time travelling to London, so it is a really special and important day.”

Claire Cookson, Chief Executive of DFN Project SEARCH, said: “We created National Supported Internships Day to celebrate the amazing contribution of every young person, every employer and every partner that makes supported internships such a success across the country. We are thrilled to be able to come together again this year and launch a whole range of celebration and campaigning activities. From site competitions and coffee mornings to Parliamentary action and social media activity, there is something everyone can get involved in today. However you choose to take part, know that you are building a fairer and more equitable future for young adults with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition.”

This year, DFN Project SEARCH joined forces with their Internships Work consortium partners British Association for Supported Employment and the National Development Team for Inclusion to deliver a series of Parliamentary events to celebrate and uplift supported internships and the young people who take part in them.

Kieran Watts, Internships Work’s Programme Manager, NDTi, said:

“NDTi are delighted to be able to support the second National Supported Internship Day. As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure young people with additional needs gain meaningful employment. We know how valuable supported internships can be as part of the pathway towards work and have seen first-hand the difference getting a job makes to young people, their families, employers, and their colleagues to have such talent onboard. 

Our work through the Internships Work programme has shown us the willingness of stakeholders to get involved to grow this opportunity across England and to double the number of supported internships by March 2025, but we mustn’t stop there. Long-term funding and commitment is needed to ensure young people not only get into work but can stay in work and have the opportunity to further their career dreams moving forward.”

Laura Davis, Chief Executive of the British Association for Supported Employment said:

“BASE is incredibly proud to be part of the Department for Education funded Internships Work program and today is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing work happening across the country to support young adults into good careers. BASE is training 760  job coaches to ensure that young people are not only supported into jobs but have access to the support needed to flourish in careers. At a time of challenge for the whole country, it is wonderful to be a small part of such a good news story, but it isn’t over yet and I want to encourage every local area and every employer to consider providing opportunities for these amazing, highly motivated young people, who want to be part of the UK’s skills shortage challenge.”

As part of the Day’s activities, DFN Project SEARCH is holding a nationwide People’s Choice competition for programmes that provide SIs and inviting everyone to take part in NSID activities. From hosting events to posting online to recruiting workplace Employer Champions – there is an activity for everyone available through the DFN Project SEARCH NSID2024 website.