A GROUP of young people with learning disabilities have started internships in Torbay Hospital under the banner of Project SEARCH.
The programme lasts a year, during which time 11 students will work in three placement rotations in many different areas within the trust including porters, catering, the postal service, medical records, haematology clinical preparation and administrative support in human resources.
The aim is to help the students find paid employment within the hospital or elsewhere in the community.
The students' time in the workplace is supported by a job coach from Pluss and dedicated staff from South Devon College, who will also support the interns in personal development planning.
After the first few days of placement students will choose their own mentor from within the hospital team they are working with.
They will carry out tasks relevant to their placement as would any other member of staff.
They will then return to the base room at the end of each day to assess how their day has gone as well as learning other communication, problem-solving and job-specific skills all delivered by the joint forces of the employer, South Devon College and Pluss.
Principal of South Devon College, Stephen Criddle, said: "I am delighted we are working in partnership with Torbay Hospital and Pluss on this brilliant initiative which provides internship opportunities based around the hospital.
"This initiative follows the announcement of Government approval for our partnership 14-18 Devon Studio School due to commence in September 2013 under the leadership of Kate Davis. This will be a very exciting year for young people in this area."
Torbay Hospital chief executive, Paula Vasco-Knight, who was recently appointed National Lead for Equality for the NHS Commissioning Board, said: "Sometimes in your career, you are involved in something really inspiring.
"I feel hugely privileged to be part of this fantastic partnership, which is just the first step in helping to get these students into paid employment.
"My commitment to each and every one of them is to provide help and support along the way and there are lots more people in the trust who are willing to do the same.
"I absolutely believe we should be doing this in all NHS organisations.
"The NHS needs difference; difference makes us a better organisation."