Hartlepool project for special needs students urging town businesses to get on board

The Hartlepool students taking part in the Project Choice scheme.
The Hartlepool students taking part in the Project Choice scheme.

A new project to support young people with special needs is hoping businesses in the town can give them a helping hand.

For the first time this year Project Choice is running across Hartlepool for young people aged 16-24-years-old, giving then a taste of work experience.

Steph Walker, Lauren Hart and David Bare promoting the Project Choice scheme on radio.

Steph Walker, Lauren Hart and David Bare promoting the Project Choice scheme on radio.

Now, the scheme is urging other companies and organisations to come forward to offer an even wider range of placements for the students starting later this year.

Project Choice has been running in the region for a number of years, but this is the first year it has taken place in Hartlepool.

Kate Newton, Project Choice Coordinator in the area, said they have been delighted by the organisations in the town which have already offered placements, but they would love to get more lined up ready for the next cohort of young people.

She said: “It would be great to have people signed up, so that we can offer placements to young people in areas they are particularly interested in, rather than having to search for them at the last minute.

It would be great to have people signed up, so that we can offer placements to young people

Kate Newton

“For example if a student was particularly intersted in computers, then it would be great to be able to offer them a placement in that field.”

This year the young people are working in a range of places, including cafes, supermarkets, schools and a dog grooming parlour.

Project Choice, is a supported internship programme run by Health Education England.

Kate said: “Our job is to find supported work placements for young people with learning disabilities and autism.

Student Kyle Shave doing a work placement at Tesco.

Student Kyle Shave doing a work placement at Tesco.

“Our students work four days a week at placement and one day a week they attend college to work on maths and English, and to learn employability skills.”

Kate said the young people are usually refered to themselves through colleges and the local authority once they have finished their formal education.

She said they work with people who have a range of special needs including autism.

Kate added: “These young people have left education, but they might not be quite ready for the world of work yet, so they are refered to us.”

Megan Adams (right) having fun learning about catering at Hartlepool Hospital.

Megan Adams (right) having fun learning about catering at Hartlepool Hospital.

She said during their college day they not only learn employability skills, but also life skills, including internet safety.

Any organisations or businesses which are interested in getting involved with the scheme can visit the Facebook page Project Choice NTH or email Kate at kate.newton@hee.nhs.uk.