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DFN Project SEARCH celebrates resounding success at the #InclusionRevolution Conference in Blackpool

We are still buzzing with the positive energy from last week’s phenomenal Inclusion Revolution Conference in Blackpool. With over 300 delegates in attendance, 30 engaging workshops delivered and 50 awards given out, the Conference was a resounding success. The shared insights and collaborative spirit that permeated the Conference were a testament to the passion and dedication of our community.

Speaking to delegates at the Conference and Awards dinner, Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH said:

“We all know there is a wealth of evidence to prove the social and economic advantages of increasing employment opportunities for young adults with a learning disability and/ or autism spectrum condition and that those advantages are not only felt by the individuals and businesses but for society as a whole. Yet, the national statistics are still far too low than any of us would like. Today, at our annual Conference, we want to inspire an inclusion revolution to change that.

“I am thrilled to convene such an amazing group of people today and I cannot wait to see how we work together, sharing, learning and improving not just individually but collectively as a community.”

Speaking about the benefit of Supported Internships from first-hand experience, DFN Project SEARCH Youth Advisory and Co-production Assistant, Harry Georgiou said:  

“With the Youth Advisory Group, we are always speaking to employers, educators, families and support service providers to give them a better understanding of young people’s needs, skills and adjustments. Our mantra is nothing about us without us because we know young people with lived experience must be the ones driving their progress to employment and independence.

“We envisaged the Conference as an extraordinary opportunity to meet hundreds of delegates from the inclusive employment community face-to-face, build bridges and plan for a more inclusive future. I am glad to report that it did not disappoint.”


SPEAKERS: It was an honour to welcome Dame Julia Cleverdon as our headline speaker at Conference. Dame Julia is a lifetime campaigner who has worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for young people facing disadvantage. We were delighted to hear speeches from Barry Fletcher, CEO of Youth Futures Foundation, David Forbes-Nixon, Founder and Executive Chair of DFN Project SEARCH, Elizabeth Franey, Deputy Director of SENDAP (Specialist Provision, Assessment and Family Experiences Division) from the Department for Education, and Erin Riehle and Susie Rutkowski, founders of the original Project SEARCH programme in the US.  

Image courtesy of TramShed

PERFORMANCE: We were delighted to enjoy a specially conceived, colourful and energising performance from the inclusive theatre company TramShed at this year’s Conference. TramShed aims to bring individuals together to create outstanding, original and beautiful theatre which inspires and celebrates everyone. No member at TramShed is excluded, only celebrated.


The DFN Project SEARCH 2023 Conference would not have been possible without the help of the following partners and sponsors:
Youth Futures Foundation, the 2023 Conference Thought Leadership Partner: Inclusive Recruitment and Workplaces.
DPD, Elaine Cameron Equality and Diversity Award sponsor.
Sodexo, Standout Partnership Award sponsor.
Leo Lion Foundation, Data for Impact Award partner.


If you were one of our guests at Conference this year, please let us know your thoughts and comments via the DFN Project SEARCH app in the Conference Feedback Section. Your feedback is vital for us to review, reflect and continually improve our events, designing an even more impactful, and fun, Conference next year.