AN award-winning scheme which helps Bradford students with a learning disability find employment has celebrated the graduation of more interns.

Project SEARCH, which is based at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (BTHFT), helps young people gain an employability skills qualification through classroom teaching and more than 900 hours of work experience.

Throughout the programme the interns are supported by job coaches and tutors from top Bradford-based companies and organisations with the ultimate aim of securing paid, meaningful work.

The partnership is run by the Trust, Bradford’s Co-op Academy Southfield, Hft – a national charity which supports adults with learning disabilities, the University of Bradford and Bradford Council.

This is the sixth year the successful scheme has been run in Bradford. Since its launch, 52 interns have graduated and 39 have found employment - 15 with the Trust.

This year’s graduates, who all have a learning disability, began their journey in September 2018, and have each completed three work placements in a variety of roles and settings.

John Holden, the Trust’s Acting Chief Executive, hosted the graduation ceremony.

He said: “The executive team are thrilled to be part of the Project SEARCH programme and have seen at first-hand the difference it makes to the lives of our interns and their families. I would like to pass on my congratulations to all the graduates – each one has a bright future ahead of them."

Becky Day, Ashley Davies, Rahim Latif, Yusaf Mahmood, Jack Wilson-Smith, Mohammed Waisal and Dominik Wolochowski have all graduated from the scheme.

They were presented with a certificate and trophy by Trust Chairman Max Mclean, and Director of HR, Pat Campbell.

Five have already secured paid, meaningful employment.

Ashley, 20, is now working as a housekeeper at St Luke’s; Rahim, 19, has found work as a warehouse operative; Yusaf, 21, has secured a job as an administration assistant at another NHS trust; and Jack, 20, is now a ward hospitality assistant at BTHFT.

Speaking on the night, Dominic Wall, Executive Principal of Co-op Academy Southfield, also paid tribute to Lorraine Cameron, the Trust’s former Head of Equality and Diversity, who helped launch Project SEARCH and acted as a champion for the interns.

She died earlier this year and the Project SEARCH programme is her legacy.

In recognition of this the Trust introduced the Lorraine Cameron Award at this year’s graduation ceremony, which will be presented annually to the intern who demonstrates the most progress during their time with us.

Ashley Davies was named the first winner of the award due to the excellent feedback he received throughout the year and a strong performance during his mock job interviews.

Mr Holden added: “Project SEARCH is all about giving young adults with a learning disability the opportunity to showcase their talents, but that’s not enough.

“They also have to take the opportunities they are given. That’s what all our graduates have done and they all deserve huge acclaim for that."

The Trust aims to employ a third of our graduates from the scheme. This year, the employment figure currently stands at 38 per cent.

Mr Mclean said: “Project SEARCH is fantastic and the graduation event is a really remarkable evening.

“I have a daughter with a learning disability so the commitment of our hospitals to the scheme means a lot me. I know how much paid employment means to families.

“Many congratulations to all the graduates and best of luck to you all for the future.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the award-winning scheme should visit for details on how to apply.