European Social Fund

DFN Project SEARCH launches with Lancashire Police

A new life-changing DFN Project SEARCH transition to employment programme for young people with learning disabilities and autism, has just launched in Lancashire with Lancashire Constabulary.

Lancashire Constabulary, Hft, DFN Project SEARCH, Preston College and Lancashire County Council have formed a collaborative partnership to give young people in the area with learning disabilities and autism vital work-based learning opportunities within staff roles at Lancashire Police. This is with a view to help them to secure meaningful paid employment and gain hands-on experience in the workplace.

The DFN Project SEARCH programme includes eight interns, from across Lancashire, aged between 18 and 24. The individuals will be learning competitive and transferable skills for a variety of roles at the constabulary and will receive an employability curriculum each day to develop their work-based skills.

DFN Project SEARCH is a transition to work programme for students with learning disabilities and autism with ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning disabilities and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade.

The pioneering programme involves total workplace immersion at its very best, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on skills training.

Over 1600 young people with learning disabilities and autism have now graduated with over 1,475 interns securing full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK. Typically, 70% of interns secure employment against the national average of just 5.6%.

Chief Constable Chris Rowley said “We are very excited to welcome these fantastic young people to the Constabulary and to help them develop their skills and confidence.

“We know that nationwide the number of young adults with learning disabilities in employment is low. I am really pleased that we are able to make our own contribution to help address that, and I hope that these placements will help our interns to go on to secure permanent jobs in the future. That way the whole business community will benefit from the development of this untapped talent pool.”

County Councillor Jayne Rear, cabinet member for education and skills at Lancashire County Council, said: “We are honoured to welcome these young people to our community as they embark on their careers.

“It’s very important that everyone has equal access when it comes to the workplace, and I’m thrilled that Lancashire County Council can work with the DFN Project SEARCH programme to help support people with learning disabilities and autism in our community.

“I wish all of our interns the very best of luck on their programme and I look forward to seeing their careers flourish.” Bryony Dolby, National Programme Coordinator from Hft said: e.g. “Hft are proud to be expanding our support to young adults with learning disabilities and autism into this exciting new programme. Our Employability Coach will work with the fantastic cohort of interns, alongside our dedicated new partners, supporting them to gain valuable skills and experience during their time working with XX Host Business. We are eager to see the interns begin their first roles and start their journeys towards paid employment.”

Vivien Caparros Lead from College, said: “At Preston College, we believe that education changes lives and we aim to provide our students with the best opportunities to progress into further or higher education, training or employment once they complete their time with us. Being part of the Supported Internship programme allows us to provide an amazing opportunity for our students to work within a key local organisation and to develop vital employability skills and competencies in order to be successful.

“It is a real privilege to be part of this programme. We are all immensely proud of the interns and are excited to see them progress and develop and to be successful in securing lifelong employment.”

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said: “We are very proud to be launching our programme here in Lancashire Location with Lancashire Constabulary and our other amazing new partners. We are delighted that our first cohort of interns have started as they are at the very start of their DFN Project SEARCH journey to obtain valuable work experience that will help transform their lives.

“We can’t wait to see the fantastic work they will be doing here and have the opportunity to demonstrate how young people with autism and learning disabilities, when given the right support, can truly thrive and make a huge contribution to society.”

DFN Project SEARCH works to build a more inclusive society by helping to create much improved career opportunities for those with learning disabilities and autism through 76 operational supported internships schemes across the UK and growing.

Those interested in applying for the programme are invited to express their interest and attend a Q&A session on Thursday 24th March at 1pm or 6pm. You can register here