Future career prospects are looking much brighter for nine local young people with learning disabilities following their graduation from the well-renowned internship scheme ‘ASPIRE’, based at Torbay Hospital.
The students, aged between 18 and 24, worked in three placements each over the past academic year. This year placements were in a variety of settings across Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (which runs Torbay Hospital), including portering, administration, Way Finding, gardening and many more.
The ASPIRE programme aims to remove the significant barriers faced by people with learning disabilities when looking for employment. This is the seventh year the project has been run by the Trust in partnership with South Devon College.
The students not only gain invaluable work experience, but also a City and Guilds qualification in Employability and Personal Development. The teaching is provided by qualified tutors from South Devon College.
Sir Richard Ibbotson, Chairman of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was a real pleasure to meet these inspiring young people, and an absolute honour to present them with their graduation certificates. They are a real asset to our Trust, bringing enthusiasm and fun to the teams they are placed with.
“Only seven per cent of people with learning disabilities nationally are in any form of paid work, compared with 74 per cent of the wider population. However, 65 per cent of people with a learning disability would like to be in employment and this demonstrates the value of the support and opportunities offered by Project ASPIRE.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank South Devon College for their continued support and close partnership working on the project.”
Four of the students have already secured employment, with the remainder very busy job hunting.
One of the ASPRIRE graduates, said “The ASPIRE project has been the best year of my life and I have learnt so much. I have had lots of support this year and learnt many new skills which I can use when I am working.”
For more information on the ASPIRE programme, contact 01803 656541 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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