A project to help young people with disabilities into full-time work has started its first term.
Project Search, a programme run by Blackpool Council, The Royal Mencap Society (Mencap), Blackpool and the Fylde College and the town’s three special schools Park, Woodlands and Highfurlong, has opened its doors to ten new pupils this week.
The young people will undergo a year of classroom based activities at the heart of Blackpool Council, in its offices on Bickerstaffe Square, as well as gaining work experience within the Council, in order for them to graduate into full-time employment in May.
The students will take part in two months of learning skills to make them more employable, before going out in to different areas of the Council to gain work experience in their chosen career.
The students work with special education teachers from Blackpool and the Fylde College, as well as a support worker from Mencap, to help the pupils achieve their goal of a permanent job.
Jake Branson, 19, from Layton, said: “I hope this will help us get a full-time job. I’d like to work in a hotel as a chef so the programme is helping me to learn new skills like handling cutlery, team building and social skills.”
Lisa Marie Kent, 19 from Central Blackpool, added: “I want to learn skills like hygiene so that I can do in to jobs like cleaning or maybe even catering. If I didn’t try this project then I don’t know what I would do – I hope it will help me find a job.”
Andrew Bradley, 20, from Marton added: “I want to work in computers and IT so this project will give me opportunities and new skills that will help me work in a new environment and help me in the community.”
Rachel Baldwin, a job coach at Mencap, said: “I’ve met all the new interns and their families and we are excited about the opportunities this project offers. This is a great chance for young adults in Blackpool and ties in with our goal to support young people with a learning disability into paid employment. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Blackpool Council and Blackpool & Fylde College to deliver on this important work.”
Julie Atkinson is one of the specialist practitioners from Blackpool and the Fylde College who is helping the new recruits.“This is an exciting project that we all want to work,” she said.
Cllr Kath Rowson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “This is a really good project to help get young adults in to work.
“Having a disability should not be a barrier towards getting in to work and becoming independent so our aim at the end of this year is to make sure that we can help all ten of these students in to permanent and full-time jobs.