Students from Project SEARCH, the partnership at the RUH that helps young people with learning disabilities to find jobs, are celebrating graduating from their one-year course.
Project SEARCH is a collaboration between the RUH Trust, Fosse Way School in Radstock and Virgin Care.
It enables students in their final year of education to spend a year on site with an employer, which provides them with the skills, experience, knowledge and confidence to find paid employment at the end of their course.
Project SEARCH teacher Tony Kelly said: “It’s fantastic to celebrate with our students at graduation and to see just how much they have progressed in their time at the RUH.
“It’s always rewarding to watch them develop into confident, sociable and able young adults, with experience in work and social skills that can really help them to succeed in the job market.”
Around a dozen students are selected each year to the programme. They spend a small proportion of every day in a classroom and the rest working in various departments on site as trainees in around 40 departments and wards.
A number have gone on to permanent employment with the RUH Trust.
Georgia Long, 22, from Saltford, near Bath, is on placement in the Children’s ward as a patient support assistant.
Her role includes tidying and cleaning rooms and kitchens, restocking equipment and infection control.
She said: “I’ve really enjoyed my time here. I was very nervous at the beginning but all the staff made me very welcome and part of the family. Working here and doing lots of different jobs had made me much more independent and able to do a valuable job for the department.”
Beverley Gilbert, ward Housekeeper and Georgia’s mentor, said: “She has been absolutely amazing. She’s learned a lot, taken things on board and does her work really well. Everyone loves her.”
Shannon Parfitt, 19, from Radstock, is another patient support assistant, working on Waterhouse ward, an older people’s unit.
She said: “I’ve learned a great deal – how to be more sociable and less shy and to do tasks to my best potential, working hard to be professional in a professional environment. I’ve really enjoyed myself.”
Ward Clerk and mentor Anna Hayes said: “I think Shannon has done really well. She’s listened to advice, she’s very interested and has developed her abilities and skills.
“It’s good for us to see how she’s improved from day to day. She’s coped very well and it’s all been very positive.”
RUH Trust Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Carlton, who presented the students with their graduation certificates, said: “Our congratulations go to all our students who have achieved and given so much over the past year.
“We are committed to the cause of Project SEARCH and immensely proud to support young people to progress into full-time employment.”
Jon Plechowicz, Virgin Care’s Head of Learning Disabilities Social Care, added: “We are proud to be part of Project SEARCH, partnering with RUH and Fosse Way to provide opportunities to young people with learning disabilities which they may otherwise not have.
“The young people involved have demonstrated that they have huge amounts to offer prospective employers and we look forward to this project spreading to other areas of the country, with BaNES demonstrating what is possible to allow more students the chance to gain experience and employment.”