A new scheme to help young people with special educational needs in Banbury get ready for work is to be expanded following a successful first year.
The Supported Internship Programme was launched in June 2015 by Mencap, the Oxfordshire Employment Service, Oxfordshire County Council and local colleges.
Among the first young people to take part were five students with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) from Banbury and Bicester College.
Since June these students have been spending three days a week in employment and one day studying at college.
Lucy Donaghy, foundation studies teacher at Banbury and Bicester College said: “During this scheme we’ve seen the confidence of our students and their employability skills increase hugely.
“For example students are now travelling independently to their place of employment, coping with change, making friends with work colleagues and embracing new responsibilities.
“Some of our students have been told in the past they might never have ‘proper’ jobs, but by participating in this scheme have made huge leaps in confidence and personal skills.
“Feedback from employers has been overwhelmingly positive. We estimate that at least 60 per cent will secure employment with their current employer by the end of the programme.”
The five interns are Carl Birtles, aged 21, Connor Weeks, aged 19, Michael Cladder, aged 24, Matthew McCarthy aged 20 and Darien Cooke, aged 21.
Connor said: “My advice to anyone thinking about getting involved would be do it. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills and you gain experience before you get a job.”
Carl added “It’s a good thing. It gives you more confidence and where I work now feels more like a second home.”
Following the success of the first wave, the second programme – offering up to double the number of places - will be launched in February.
Hannah Thomas, learning manager for foundation learning at Banbury and Bicester College said: “The internship provides a structured programme for 16 to 24 year olds with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, who have a statement of special educational needs, LDA or EHCP and who want to move into employment.
“Together with our partners, we support young people into paid employment and equip interns with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace.”
If any parent or carer of a young person with SEND would like to take part,contact Banbury and Bicester College via email at firstname.lastname@example.org