This Saturday (2 April) is World Autism Awareness Day, and we are proud to have eight autistic interns working at the Trust, as part of the King’s Internship scheme at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) in Bromley, and Project SEARCH at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell.
Taslim Shitta-Bey and Jake Wallis, aged 24 and 25 respectively, are two of the interns. They say that working at the Trust has helped them become more confident and independent after experiencing difficult times growing up.
“When I was a child, because of my autism, I didn’t speak to anyone until I was 7 years old,” Taslim said. “I used to cry and I got in a lot of trouble every day because of it.”
The Trust has partnered with colleges in Lambeth and Bromley, their local councils, Unity Works, and the charity DFN Project SEARCH, to provide young people with learning disabilities and/or autism work experience to help provide the necessary skills to obtain paid employment.
According to a recent report by the Office for National Statistics, autistic people are least likely to be in work than any other disabled group. Data reveals that only 21.7% of autistic people are in employment.
Taslim has worked in the ICT department and is currently in the staff restaurant at King’s College Hospital. He says he has improved his listening and customer skills and is hoping his hard work can help him transition to permanent, paid employment.
“I like being in the canteen,” Taslim said. “It’s great and I enjoy it because I have the best colleagues.
“When I graduate in July, I would like to work in central London.”
Jake Wallis has been interning in the Spar shop at the PRUH since January, and describes his time at the hospital as ‘awesome’ and he has enjoyed being part of a team.
“I have had to overcome my reading and writing problems,” Jake said. “I use a notebook to help with harder words, and I use Google to help me spell them correctly.
“At the PRUH I’ve learned a lot about stock rotation, how to fill shelves, unpack boxes, and move the trolley safely.
“My internship has made me feel like part of King’s. No-one seems to notice my autism.”
Professor Clive Kay, Chief Executive at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted that our interns are enjoying their time at the Trust. It has been great seeing their confidence grow, and they are now able to complete tasks they found difficult when they started in September.
“We want to be an inclusive organisation where everyone feels they belong and, as outlined in our BOLD strategy, we are building a culture that champions diversity, equality and inclusion.
“The chance to give these young adults the opportunity to change their life chances for the better is something that everyone at Team King’s can be proud of.”
The interns will be moving into their third and final placement after the Easter school holidays (Tuesday 19 April), before they graduate the internship in July. More information about the two schemes can be found here.