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DFN Project SEARCH celebrates the first-ever National Supported Internship Day

Monday 27th March 2023 marked UK’s first-ever National Supported Internship Day (NSID), a day of action to help boost the number of people with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition in employment. On this day, we called on employers to redouble their efforts to employ young adults with SEND and come together to challenge the everyday misconceptions that all too often unfairly shape their life opportunities.   

With activities, celebrations and media campaigns taking place around the country, the Day showcased the tremendous contribution that young adults with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) can make to the workforce and raise awareness of the hugely positive impact a Supported Internship has on the lives of the interns who take part. To celebrate, DFN Project SEARCH leaders, staff, interns, ambassadors and supporters came together to take part in exciting events, launch creative campaigns on social media, do interviews on GB News TV and on BBC radio stations, attend a reception at Downing Street and cut an enormous cake at with our partners at Whipps Cross Hospital, London. 

NSID is part of our wider #InclusionRevolution campaign launched last year and is backed by the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of Exchequer. The Chancellor congratulated DFN Project SEARCH for raising awareness of the great benefits of supported internships when he met our founder David Forbes-Nixon, our CEO Claire Cookson and a group of our staff, young people and supporters in No11 Downing Street. The Chancellor spoke about the need to involve government sectors, education providers, supported employment agencies, businesses and families in integrating young people into the job market. In his speech, he also reinforced the Government’s commitment to ensuring that young adults with a learning disability or autism receive the right support, tailored to their needs, to allow them to find, access and stay in employment.  

Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing, Claire Coutinho, joined the Chancellor at the reception to congratulate DFN Project SEARCH on the successful campaign. She explained how the Government is boosting investment for the internships by doubling their numbers, and, through the extra £3m the Chancellor announced, exploring ways to extend this programme to young people with SEND and without an EHC plan.   

The campaign reached far outside of Downing Street, with DFN Project SEARCH staff, interns and graduates across England, Scotland and Wales actively involved in the campaign. They took part in social media activities like launching a TikTok platform with our interns in Hull or dancing it out in Manchester, hosting events like a coffee morning in Leeds, climbing mountains in the Lake District and speaking to news reporters in Edinburgh and Cardiff, and, most importantly, speaking directly to employers to ask for their attention and engagement – because every young person deserves it.