March 2024


More than 70 visitors attend Supported Internships Fair

"There was a real buzz and it was heartening to hear the enthusiasm and passion in the conversations that were taking place."

Opportunities for some of the county’s young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) were showcased at Warwickshire County Council’s Supported Internships Fair.

Over 70 people came along to the drop-in event, at the Eliot Park Innovation Centre in Nuneaton, including young people with SEND, their parents, caregivers, local businesses, educational institutions, and support services, who gathered to explore and share the exciting possibilities of Supported Internships in Warwickshire. 

Following a similar format to the inaugural event, held last November at the Compton Verney Art Gallery, the second fair provided another opportunity to showcase Supported Internships as a potential pathway for young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) who are looking at their next steps after education. 

Not only can a Supported Internship help a young person with SEND to learn vital employability skills, but it can also help them grow in confidence, giving them greater self-esteem and independence. Successful Supported Internship programmes, such as those delivered by George Eliot Hospital and the Heart of England Forest which have resulted in young people gaining paid employment on completion of their internship, offered inspiration to those who attended. 

Aaron, a young person who attended the fair to explore internships in the NHS, said he felt ‘reassured’ and ‘had confidence he will thrive in the future.' He found that people had been “very gentle and polite and they have been open to any questions.” 

Parents also felt like they were leaving much better informed on what was available post-education for their young person, with one commenting there was “lots more information than I realised – really helpful” and another who found the “support services very helpful in explaining how things work [and] what I need to do next for my son.” Others expressed praise for the event, welcoming the chance to network and remarked the event had given “an idea of different steps, [and I now have] more insight into Supported Internships." Another attendee noted, "Excellent new information, great opportunity to network." 

DFN ProjectSEARCH, a national organisation who work with businesses and colleges to deliver Supported Internship programmes, were on hand to share their advice and insight. Funto Awoyelu, Programme Specialist from DFN ProjectSEARCH, commented “It’s been great to meet employers who have probably never heard of Supported Internships but now they’ve come away thinking that it will be great for their business.”  

Clare Barlow, Talent for Care Facilitator at George Eliot Hospital, said “We’ve had loads of teachers and colleges who have been really interested in finding out more to educate their students about Supported Internships.” 

Reflecting on the event's success, Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Economy, Cllr Martin Watson, said: “It was fantastic to see so many attend the Supported Internships Fair in Nuneaton. There was a real buzz and it was heartening to hear the enthusiasm and passion in the conversations that were taking place.  

“Our Supported Internships initiative has a crucial role to play in creating a more inclusive future for our young people with SEND, and I am encouraged by the optimism and reassurance shared by attendees like Aaron, who left feeling confident about his future prospects. Parents also left better informed, equipped with valuable knowledge about post-education opportunities for their children and crucial links were forged between education providers, businesses and support services. 

“The positive feedback received underlines the importance of events like these in fostering connections and providing invaluable resources and I commend the efforts of all involved in making it a success." 

Building on the momentum from the first national campaign in 2023, DFN Project Search is again aiming to put supported internships on the map with it's second National Supported Internships Day on 27 March 2024. The theme for this year is amplifying the voices of young people and it will include a planned programme of Parliamentary activity.

The campaign is also encouraging businesses to sign up for employer ambassador training. Whether you are already working with and supporting young people who are autistic or have a learning disability in the workplace, or you're passionate about encouraging others to do the same, this free online training is for you. 

You will discover:

  • What is a supported internship? (Linked to national guidance and Quality Framework)
  • Why are they so important to young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
  • How to talk about the subject with confidence
Dates are available throughout April, May and June. Find out more and book your place via Eventbrite here.

* To find out more about Supported Internship opportunities, whether you are a parent or carer, young person, business or education provider, then please visit the SEND Local Offer where you will find the new Supported Internship Guides, video testimonials and more information.

You can follow the Warwickshire SEND Local Offer Facebook page and sign up to receive the monthly Warwickshire SEND newsletter for the latest news and updates including future events.


Have your say...

Comments are closed for this article