Project SEARCH proves to be a success at King’s
27 March 2023 - King’s partnered with DFN Project SEARCH in September 2021 to provide young people with workplace internships
King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provided work experience to young adults with learning disabilities and/or autism from September 2021 to July 2022.
Sam Camenzuli-Woods, 20, was one of seven interns to take part in Project SEARCH at King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill, last year – the first time the programme has taken place at the Trust.
In September 2021, the Trust partnered with with South Bank Colleges, Lambeth Council, London South East Colleges, Bromley Council, Unity Works, and the charity DFN Project SEARCH, to deliver a supported employment internship programme to young people living with autism and learning disabilities at King’s College Hospital.
The scheme is taking place again at King’s College Hospital during the 2022-23 academic year, as well as at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) in Farnborough Common.
Six months on from graduation in July 2022, Sam used the skills he gained on his year-long internship to secure a full-time role at the Trust, working in the cardiac department at King’s College Hospital.
Sam, who has a speaking difficulty, works as administrator in the team, and says that working at King’s has made him more confident speaking to people, and his colleagues have been supportive of him. “I have a speaking difficulty and sometimes I can’t pronounce words and I stutter.
“After work, I practice my speaking. I feel like I’m part of Team King’s and I don’t feel nervous talking to my colleagues. This is my first proper job and I want to impress the team with my work and so far I think I am getting the hang of it.”
Throughout the internship last year and continuing on in employment, Sam has been supported by his job coach Etherline Joseph, from Unity Works, a charity which supports young people with learning disabilities across London. “Etherline is so amazing, she has been helping me since day one and without her I don’t know what I would do.”
Sam was a sixth form student at Elm Court School, a school for children and young adults with learning disabilities in Lambeth, and teachers persuaded him to take part in Project SEARCH despite his initial reservations. “I thought that this wasn’t going to be for me as I wanted to go to college and do something to do with sports. But doing Project SEARCH at King’s has changed me and I am very grateful for all the people who have helped me and supported me.
“I want to show people that even though I have a learning difficulty, I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I want to show people that people with learning disabilities can do anything.
“I am really proud of everything I have achieved and I know I can do a lot more as well.”
Speaking of his experience of Project SEARCH, Sam says that young people with learning disabilities and/or autism should take part in Project SEARCH if offered the chance. “I would say to students with learning disabilities that Project SEARCH is the best thing to do.
“The programme helps people with disabilities get a paid job and if you do Project SEARCH you will learn a lot of new skills.”
You can learn more about Project SEARCH at King’s one our work experience page.