Blackpool’s job scheme for youngsters with learning disabilities is back for a second year.
The hugely successful Project Search programme, which is run by Blackpool Council, learning disability charity, The Royal Mencap Society (Mencap), Blackpool and the Fylde College and the town’s three special schools – Park, Woodlands and Highfurlong – has taken on ten new students this September with the aim of getting them all in to work come June.
Each of the students will spend two months in a classroom at Blackpool Council’s offices on Bickerstaffe Square, where they will learn personal and jobs skills before embarking on sessions of work placements to find a suitable job for them.
Last year, seven out of the ten students with Project Search managed to secure full time work, above the average for similar projects across the world, and this year the bar has been set just as high.
In Blackpool, 1.8% of the population have learning disabilities and less than 7% of them are in employment.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Having a disability should not be a barrier towards getting in to work and becoming independent.
“Our aim with Project Search was always to help the students develop the skills and confidence that would help them gain permanent and full time jobs. I’m delighted with what we managed to achieve in the first year and wish this year’s new recruits the best of luck.”
The new students are now all looking forward to getting started with Project Search and are looking for the same success as last year’s intake.
Jack Hammill, 18 and from Central Blackpool, joined the project after hearing about it at Blackpool and the Fylde College.
Jack said: “It’s a massive project for me and I think it will help a lot more than trying to apply for jobs and being unsuccessful.
“I love working around computers and hope that can I find a job working with them at the end of the project.”
Fellow student Brittany Morris from Layton added: “Over the summer I did some work experience in a café. I’d always wanted to get a job but that got me even more ready.
“I love helping people and being nice so I hope I can get a job that involves that – maybe with the hospital.”
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.
Rachel Baldwin, employment co-ordinator at Mencap, said: “I am delighted that we are starting another year on Project Search.
“The interns are enthusiastic to get on the programme and start their journey on the road to getting employed. Project Search has shown that it can work and does by providing young adults with self-confidence and skills to get to where they want to in life.”
Julie Atkinson, one of the tutors from Blackpool and the Fylde College, added: “I can’t believe it’s the second year for Project Search already.
“The new interns are at the beginning of a great year and I hope it can be as successful, if not better, as last year. I am really looking forward to working with the team, as these young adults have a lot of skills to offer potential employers.”
To find out if your business could benefit from having a Project Search student in the workplace, or to find out more about how Blackpool has embarked on Project Search, visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/projectsearch